The Soda Ash Royalty Extension, Job Creation and Export Enhancement Act of 2011, authored by U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo), cleared the House Resources full committee markup (with/out) amendment on its way to the House floor. The legislation, introduced in March of 2011, reinstates the 2% royalty rate paid by Wyoming's natural soda ash producers, which was raised this past October to 6%.
Wyoming's superior natural product has faced serious competition from foreign producers utilizing unfair trade practices, like Chinese subsidies. The inequality in treatment threatens to derail what has been a success story in American manufacturing. That is why the bill has support from the United Steelworkers Union in Wyoming, and the Longshoremen at the Port of Portland.
Sweetwater County soda ash producers employ nearly 3,000 workers in Wyoming alone along with hundreds of longshoremen at the ports of Portland, Oregon and Port Arthur, Texas. It also accounts for nearly one billion dollars to the balance of trade for the U.S. This extension is central to maintaining the American soda ash industry's competitive edge in the global market.
"It's encouraging to see my colleagues on the House Resources Committee recognize the importance of returning this rate to 2006 levels," Rep. Lummis said. "Setting the royalty rate at 2% was a success in 2006. Employment within the industry rose, along with production and exports. As we eek our way out of this recession we have to be smart about setting rates that are directly affecting our country's job creators."
· The federal royalty of 2% was set by Congress in 2006 as a response to the growing synthetic soda ash industry in China, and the Chinese Value Added Tax rebate for soda ash that artificially depressed the price of the Chinese product.
· March 2011: Congressman Lummis introduces H.R. 1192, Soda Ash Royalty Extension, Job Creation and Export Enhancement Act of 2011, legislation to extend the soda ash royalty rate of 2% through October 2016.
· In September of 2011, Representative Lummis joined fellow Western House members also affected by soda ash royalty increases, in sending a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting the royalty rate to be extended.
· The soda ash royalty expired in October 2012, substantially increasing the costs to operate in Wyoming. This government imposed cost to the industry comes in the midst of a nationwide recession.
· On April 27, 2012, Rep. Lummis testified before the House Natural Resources Committee discussing the soda ash industry and H.R. 1192. Watch Congressman Lummis' testimony here: http://youtu.be/zCAx54GstlA
· May 15, 2012, the House Natural Resources committee holds full committee hearing over H.R. 1192.
For more information on H.R.1192 please visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.01192: