Nucor exec says ‘let market drive’ GHG reduction

While integrated steelmakers are very concerned about the direct costs of cap and trade schemes, EAF producers are more worried about the effect on electricity prices.

SBB 7 April Competition and self-directed technological innovation should drive the global steel industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, not government initiatives, according to a high-ranking Nucor executive.

Speaking on 6 April during Steel Business Briefing’s Green Steel Strategies conference in Brussels, Nucor GM of environmental affairs Steve Rowlan said the US steel industry has already reduced CO2 emissions by some 28-30% since 1990.

“That was not because of any government edict. Competition drives it,” Rowlan said. “We’re looking at more technologies that would make us more efficient. Let the market drive it.”

Controversial climate change legislation that died in the US Congress likely would have resulted in a net temperature reduction of less than 0.1% Celsius. “In statistics, that’s in the chatter,” Rowlan said.

“We’re trading carbon. We’re buying carbon. We’ve got governments involved,” he said. “But in the meantime, nobody’s talking about whether it will make a difference.”

He said various GHG reduction schemes being pursued in the US and abroad could potentially triple electricity rates for steelmakers and other manufacturers.

“We need affordable, reliable and abundant energy. I don’t wish anything bad for the rest of the world, but if they want a cap-and-trade program, more power to them,” Rowlan said. “It takes what would be an otherwise green industry and turns it into a red industry, while we’re not really addressing the problem … if it really exists.”

“You can’t be sustainable if you’re not profitable,” he added. “You can’t be profitable if you’re paying exorbitant amounts for energy.”


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