U.S. Sen. Bob Casey met with executives and workers at AK Steel in Butler on Tuesday, speaking about topics ranging from economics to the nation's opioid crisis before touring the company's facility on Armco Drive.
Casey's visit to the company, which is one the county's largest employers, was part of a three-day swing through the region during which he toured transportation facilities and manufacturers and spoke about issues ranging from infrastructure and tax policy to the Trump Administration's investigation into whether steel imports are damaging national security.
That probe, known as a 232 Investigation, is particularly important to AK Steel because the company is the only remaining U.S. manufacturer that produces grain-oriented electrical steels — iron-silicon alloys that are used in industrial power grids and other specialized electrical apparatus, like electric motors. In May, the company won a $1.8 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the next generation of advanced electrical steels for motors.
Renee Filiatraut, the company's vice president for labor an external affairs, said it was “frightening,” to consider the implications of relying more and more on imports to supply the nation's power grids.
“I think we've got a really important story to tell,” Filiatraut said.
Casey agreed, calling the country's increasing reliance on foreign steel “a real threat,” particularly since AK is the only remaining U.S. manufacturer in the field of electric steel.
A full report will appear in the Butler Eagle.