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AISI urges 'essential' designation for US steel mills in coronavirus response

Highlights

AISI asks Trump administration to identify the steel manufacturing as "essential"

ISRI also requests "essential" designation for US recycling operations

Pittsburgh — The American Iron and Steel Institute urged the Trump administration Wednesday to identify the steel manufacturing sector and its workers as "essential" in directives responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

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In the letter sent to Vice President Mike Pence, AISI CEO Thomas Gibson said shelter-in-place orders and orders to cease operations should not apply to steel manufacturing because of its importance to US infrastructure.

"As businesses across the nation have been ordered by many state and local governments to limit or cease operations in recent days, several states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have specifically exempted industrial manufacturing as 'essential," Gibson said in the letter. "We urge the Trump administration to provide consistent nationwide guidance by formally recognizing critical manufacturing sectors that are essential to our country's critical infrastructure and the response to COVID-19."

The risk advisory body of the US government, the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency at the US Department of Homeland Security, already lists the iron, steel and ferro-alloy manufacturing sector as a critical manufacturing sector, Gibson said.

"Without access to a reliable source of steel production during this crisis, our national and economic security will be severely impacted," he said.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, or ISRI, also sent a letter to Pence on Wednesday requesting that all recycling operations across the the country be designated "essential" business amid the coronavirus outbreak.