Helping Steel

THE MUCH-BELEAGUERED steel industry drew the attention of national legislators last week. It came in the form of the annual “State of the Steel Industry” hearing in Washington, D.C.

It gave steel leaders a forum to outline issues affecting their business. A conference of such magnitude can only help an industry in dire need of such.

Elected officials from both Ohio and West Virginia stated their respective cases. Their delivery may have been different, but their message was the same. That being steel is vital to the Ohio Valley as well as the nation. They also agreed that steel is being severely harmed due to several factors.

Illegal dumping, currency manipulation by China and over regulation by our government were all cited as reasons the steel industry has been sagging. While our tri-state politicians were unified in their concerns, the key is whether their refrain fell on receptive ears.

We certainly hope so, but we have strong doubts. The federal government for much too long has turned its back on our steelworkers.

The once-vibrant industry — which helped fuel the local economy — has been in decline for the past three decades. Government leaders have watched idly by, instead of stepping up and providing support and relief.

West Virginia senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, along with their Ohio counterparts, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, all made passionate pleas for aiding steel.

We especially like Portman’s approach.

He said the steel industry in the Ohio Valley can have a bright future, “so long as the federal government does a better job of creating the right business environment. This means more sensible regulations, trade policy that ensures other countries comply with the rules, and other pro-growth policies including more development of domestic sources of energy on private and public lands.”

Portman is right on. Now the key is what becomes of all the dialogue. The ball is definitely in the hands of the federal government.

We in the Ohio Valley realize the need for a strong steel industry. Hopefully that message now resonates through Washington.