Wallingford: Tariffs could have unintended consequences

  

By. Sen. Wayne Wallingford

Missouri Chairman, Vets4Energy

The United States is in the enviable position of being the global leader in the production of oil and natural gas which has led to job growth, benefits to U.S. consumers and enhancement of national security. Recent actions by President Trump and his administration have placed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports which could produce unintended consequences that adversely impact U.S. energy security. Many aspects of natural gas and oil development (including the construction of production facilities, pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants) rely upon specialty steel that is not available domestically.

Forbes contributor Jude Clements writes: “There are serious concerns about whether U.S. steelmakers would be able to handle higher volumes and produce all grades of steel necessary for industrial production… Such anti-import policies can lead to critical delays and even cancellations for U.S. pipeline projects, holding up hundreds or thousands of miles of new builds.”  Mark Perry, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and University of Michigan professor states “[A] decline in U.S. oil production will enable OPEC and Russia to raise world oil prices. In the current political environment, as trade wars with other countries loom on the horizon, a reduction in U.S. oil and gas exports would also represent a major setback in efforts to check Russia’s growing economic and political power.”

I’m concerned that tariffs on aluminum and steel could adversely impact our nation’s ability to continue to supply adequate energy products to our military and to our foreign partners that rely on these products for their national security.

Of course, the looming prospect of a trade war could impact exportation of other critical U. S. products such as agriculture and automobiles, two products made extensively in Missouri. Chinese tariffs on these industries make this issue hit dangerously close to home.

I hope that future determinations by the administration will consider the unintended consequences of a trade war on our national security and economic prosperity.