Editorial: Is U.S. Steel’s $1 billion upgrade good for all? | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Is U.S. Steel’s $1 billion upgrade good for all?

Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Employees of US Steel look on prior to an announcement of the investment of $1 billion to upgrade facilities at its Mon Valley Works on May 2, 2019.

It’s an old, rickety teeter-totter of an idea. You have to choose between supporting the economy and the environment.

It’s a lie. As voters, as workers, as government and corporations, we can’t fall for it.

And we have to encourage and celebrate attempts to do both.

U.S. Steel’s $1 billion investment plans for two Mon Valley Works facilities could be that kind of bridge that would connect cleaner processes with increased production and more jobs.

“This is a truly transformational investment for U.S. Steel,” President and CEO David Burritt said in a statement.

It is a massive investment in an industry that many have seen as dying by inches for decades, and that might be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Trump trade tariffs.

But it’s also a victory for the idea that we can find better ways to do the job without all of the toxic side effects if we just make that a priority.

U.S. Steel’s announcement detailed a groundbreaking endless casting and rolling facility at the Edgar Thompson Plant in Braddock that would be more energy efficient than current production. The Clairton co-generation plant would clean both water and air, use coke oven gas to produce its own electricity and recycle exhaust with steam generators.

That could be good news for the rivers and the trees and everyone who breathes, and just as good for the bottom line as U.S. Steel will recoup investments and lower costs. The union heralded the modernizations and improvements as creating job security.

Economy and environment don’t have to be polar opposites. Neither do the best interests of the company and the workers. It doesn’t have to be a teeter-totter when the best examples are about balance.

Good business doesn’t have to have a loser in order for someone to win. What is profitable for owners can be beneficial for employees and in turn be environmentally sound for the community.

Good policies can prompt good ideas. The ideas can spur the economy top to bottom. Smart companies can see the profit in being good stewards. It just takes commitment and cooperation.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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