Rep. Paul Cook Reintroduces the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act to Secure American Mining Jobs
WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 1399, the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act. Soda ash, or Sodium Carbonate, is used to manufacture glass and produce chemicals, detergents, paper, and other products. This bill would set the royalties collected on soda ash at a two percent rate for five years. The bill had been introduced in the previous session of Congress, but was not voted on by the full House of Representatives.
In 2006, Congress passed the Soda Ash Royalty Reduction Act (SAARA), which temporarily reduced the royalties collected on soda ash by the federal government from six percent to two percent. This was done in response to Chinese manufacturing of artificial soda ash. China’s heavily subsidized manufacturing program has made it the largest producer of soda ash in the world. The royalty reduction was meant to keep U.S. producers competitive and to ensure that the domestic soda ash production capability is maintained. SAARA expired in 2011, returning the royalty rate to six percent. This was later reduced to four percent in 2013 and in October 2015 the rate returned to six percent
The American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act would return the royalty to a two percent rate for five years, giving the industry time to continue growing, and protecting hundreds of good-paying jobs. This will allow U.S. soda ash producers to expand in foreign markets, securing good-paying American mining jobs.
Aside from the economic benefit, promoting American soda ash is good for the environment. While American soda ash is found naturally, Chinese soda ash is produced synthetically. Chinese synthetic production uses twice the energy, which results in over three times the carbon emissions as natural soda ash production.
Cook said, “This is an important bill that will protect a vital industry, grow jobs, and do this with little impact to the federal budget. Sodium carbonate production is a $1.8 billion industry within the U.S., providing over 3,000 direct jobs. Soda ash is mined in my district and is exported through California ports. This bill will protect and expand mining jobs in my district, while strengthening our national security.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) introduced a companion bill in the Senate yesterday.
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.