Citing steelmakers, Dems buck Biden on air toxics action

By Sean Reilly | 03/05/2024 06:29 AM EST

A group of Senate Democrats is asking President Joe Biden to back off proposed regulations that would hit steelmakers.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio.) is questioning EPA regulations affecting the steel industry. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

In a last-ditch appeal that again underscores the tensions between two top Biden administration priorities, a group of centrist Democratic senators is asking the White House to back off a suite of stricter air toxics regulations that primarily affect traditional steelmakers.

“As currently written, these three rules pose a threat to our steel industry’s global economic competitiveness while yielding minimal environmental benefits — benefits that can be achieved through other means,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and three other senators wrote President Joe Biden in a letter released Monday.

While not asking that the rules be scrapped, they “implore” the administration to work with steelmakers and labor “to achieve feasible regulations that preserve the economic competitiveness of American steel.”


Brown, a three-term incumbent, is expected to face a tough reelection race this year in a state that has tilted Republican. The framing of his pitch to the White House, however, potentially pits Biden’s commitment to the preservation of traditional unionized manufacturing jobs against a pledge to reduce pollution’s disproportionate burden on people of color and low-income communities under the umbrella of environmental justice.