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The impacts of Buy American
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Dear Editor,

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on HR 1262, the "Water Quality Act of 2009." The good news is that it authorizes $16.6 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, sewer overflow control grants, alternative water source projects and the clean up of contaminated sediment under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.  

The bad news is that it contains the exact same “buy American” language that appears in the stimulus bill, meaning all future water and wastewater projects receiving SRF assistance could only use U.S. steel, iron and manufactured goods. Like the stimulus bill, there are three conditions in HR 1262 where this requirement can be waived:    

(1) if it would be inconsistent with the public interest . . . however that's defined.

(2) if the steel, iron and manufactured goods are not produced in the U.S. in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of satisfactory quality.

(3) if complying with this provision would increase the overall cost of the project by more than 25 percent.   

To get a waiver, EPA would have to provide public notice with opportunity to comment on a project-by-project basis and, should a waiver be issued, publish the detailed written justification in the Federal Register. Also, like the stimulus bill, there is a provision in HR 1262 stating that this requirement must be applied “in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements.” These international agreements only apply to federal procurement and construction projects, not state and local projects, so it offers no relief to SRF-funded projects.

Temcor is the world leader in the design, manufacture and erection of geodesic domes and a variety of other clear span roofing systems providing environmental protection for our potable water, wastewater, and sewage treatment infrastructure nationwide. Temcor’s manufacturing facility is located in Rincon and employs 73 personnel.   

While Temcor’s business remains strong in spite of the bleak economy, a significant part of our ability to continue to provide high-paying manufacturing jobs is dependent on our ability to continue to serve these markets. Temcor’s ability to remain strong in our niche market depends on our ability for future expansion, as well. While current and projected levels of activity necessitate expansion of the manufacturing facility’s building to support the adding of new equipment and the adding of new employees to operate the equipment, the bill as written will likely be cause for delaying these plans.  

Small and mid-size manufacturers form the core of this country's industrial base and employ over 10.2 million Americans. As Congress and President Obama work to improve the economy and create new jobs, they need be mindful that the jobs that we create are jobs for Americans.

Temcor publicly invites President Obama, our local senators and representatives, and any other members of Congress to tour Temcor’s manufacturing facility and allow me to discuss with them directly the challenges we face and the impact of the “Buy American” provision of the bill.
Leland A. Sanders
Vice President, Manufacturing