President Trump issued an Executive Memorandum Regarding Pipeline Construction, which directed the Department of Commerce to develop a plan to use only materials produced in the United States for all pipeline construction. The Association of General Contractors of America submitted comments to the Department of Commerce detailing the construction industry’s concerns with the Memorandum and its practical implications on members.
AGC objected to the overly narrow definition of what kinds of products would constitute being "produced in the United States." The definition would require all processes for a given iron or steel product to take place in the U.S., including melting and pouring, which pits some U.S. companies against other U.S. producers and picks winners and losers. By defining "produced in the United States" as "melting," the Memorandum excludes U.S. facilities and workers that heat or "hot roll" steel but don’t melt it from continuing to participate in the private pipeline market, ultimately punishing U.S. companies and their workers alongside foreign producers.
AGC also questioned the legality of applying such domestic content requirements on construction materials to private projects altogether. Attaching such conditions to the receipt of a federal permit is a very dangerous slippery slope that opens the door to all sorts of federal requirements that have never before been conditions on privately funded construction work. Such an action could lead to the creation of more federal impediments – not fewer – to building infrastructure. The federal government denying U.S. companies access to private markets is unprecedented and will result in job losses for U.S. workers.
AGC will continue to monitor this issue and work with the federal agencies to make sure that new impediments to construction don’t arise from executive actions.