SMA-MSCI Annual Members Conference Hears from Transportation Secretary, U.S. Trade Representative, EPA Administrator, Elected Officials, Industry Leaders

Steel executives from up and down the supply chain gathered in Washington last week for the annual members conference of the Steel Manufacturers Association and the Metals Service Center Institute. The conference, called Building the World Together, drew more than 200 people.

They heard from high-powered speakers who spoke candidly about leadership, trade, environmental protection, geopolitics, and the ins and outs of policymaking in Washington.

Two members of President Joseph R. Biden’s Cabinet led the way by appearing at the gala dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Ambassador Katherine Tai, the 19th U.S. trade representative, spoke about the principles that guide her while she negotiates trade deals like the Global Arrangement on Steel and Aluminum. She was introduced by Leon Topalian, chair, president, and CEO of Nucor Corporation, the nation’s largest steel company and an SMA member. After making some remarks, she sat down for a conversation with SMA President Philip K. Bell.

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The other Cabinet member who appeared at the dinner, Administrator Michael Regan of the Environmental Protection Agency, talked with Phil about his background, his enforcement priorities, and the steel industry’s ongoing partnership with EPA. Lenore Trammell, chief compliance officer and general counsel at Big River Steel, an SMA member, introduced Administrator Regan.

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The SMA Board of Directors met during the conference. Strategic planning was the top agenda item. SMA Chair Ty Garrison of Commercial Metals Company presided. Others in attendance included SMA Immediate Past Chair Mark Millett of Steel Dynamics and Leon Topalian of Nucor.

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The board also welcomed several distinguished guests. U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) talked about the Leveling the Playing Field 2.0 Act, which he recently introduced with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The bipartisan legislation is designed to strengthen trade remedy laws.

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U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan (D-Indiana), vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, talked about the importance of steel to his district and the American economy.

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And Deputy Secretary David Turk of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), who talked about how DOE and domestic steel producers can help create a lower carbon future. Turk is the No. 2 official at DOE.

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A third Cabinet member spoke to the conference — this time by video. In a recorded message, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg greeted conference attendees and reinforced the Biden administration’s commitment to America’s steel industry.

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During the general sessions, attendees heard from former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, foreign policy expert Anja Manuel, climate policy expert Greg Bertelsen, and several top steel executives: Leon Topalian and Dan Needham of Nucor; Katie Larson of SSAB Americas; and Karla R. Lewis of Reliance Steel & Aluminum.

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Congressional Steel Caucus Chairman Rep. Rick Crawford, Steel Caucus member Rep. Carol Miller, and other members of Congress stopped by during our meeting in the Members Room at the Library of Congress to talk about steel, jobs, buying clean, and buying American.

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SMA is the largest steel industry trade association in North America when it comes to capacity, production, investment, workforce, and economic impact. Our members account for about 70 percent of American steel production, and they produce steel with just a fraction of the carbon emissions generated by integrated steelmakers who rely on coal.