By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced HR 1992, 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.
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, where it stands today. In October 2015, without this bill, it is scheduled to return to six percent
The American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act would return the royalty to a two percent rate for five years, giving the mining industry time to continue growing into foreign markets, and protecting hundreds of good-paying 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.
This bill has significant bipartisan support. Reps. Lummis (R- WY), Himes (D- CT), Brooks (R- AL), Bonamici (D- OR), Valadao (R- CA), and Schrader (D- OR) joined Rep. Paul Cook as original cosponsors of the bill.
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.”
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.