President Donald Trump will soon have to pick a side in a dispute between two of his favorite industries.
Pipeline companies and the U.S. steel industry are facing off ahead of a report due this weekend from the Department of Commerce that could lead to limits on pipelines' ability to import steel, a proposition pipeline companies say could spell doom for upcoming projects and the steel industry believes will bolster the country's economy.
The report follows a presidential memorandum signed January 24 ordering the department to sketch out a plan for maximizing the use of domestic materials in pipelines built in the United States, and is due Sunday, July 23.
Trump has in the past promoted policies that favored both industries, speeding regulatory approval for major pipeline projects early in his presidency, and recently mulling import tariffs on steel that are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is a former steel executive whose policy papers advising the Trump campaign cited unfair trade practices as a drag on American steel companies.
The pipeline decision pits the two industries in a zero-sum effort to win over the administration, while also putting into conflict the president's twin goals of supporting infrastructure development and promoting domestic manufacturing.
Pipeline companies have said that an import restriction could increase prices. A study funded by industry groups said a requirement to source American steel could drive up pipe costs 25%, an amount that could add $76 million to the construction costs of most pipelines and up to $300 million for mega-projects like the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.