Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Industrial Attraction How Pittsburgh Treats Shenango Can Hurt Recruiting

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Industrial Attraction How Pittsburgh Treats Shenango Can Hurt Recruiting

Article excerpt

The U.S. Department of Commerce wants to help promote private investment in metals manufacturing in the Pittsburgh region, as was reported last month in the Post-Gazette.

Terrific! But while the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership tries to create 14,000 skilled jobs during the next 10 years, we should question how we are currently treating members of this industry.

Case in point: DTE Energy's Shenango Inc. coke plant on Neville Island. The 125 members of the United Steelworkers of America at Shenango turn coal into coke, the essential blast furnace fuel and reducing agent for making steel.

Steel is metallurgy's gift to mankind. The world is cleaner, healthier and safer - not to mention more energy-efficient, productive and prosperous - thanks to steel. But we cannot have steel without coke.

But to listen to environmental organizations such as the Group Against Smog and Pollution and Clean Water Action, you would think that people from Sewickley to Millvale are facing a death sentence unless Shenango shuts down. Since acquiring the plant in 2008, Detroit-based DTE Energy has allocated $61 million in capital improvements. As a result, air emissions have declined dramatically.

Shenango's compliance has now reached nearly 100 percent. Periods of excess emission, which before 2008 typically lasted several hours, now average less than one minute a day.

Let's remember why the nation needs coke and steel in the first place: Steel moves drinking water, natural gas, liquid fuels and essential chemicals through pipelines cheaply and safely over vast distances. It moves tremendous amounts of bulk commodities and manufactured goods efficiently by rail.

Steel makes strong, durable high-rise buildings that conserve green space and provide shelter, workplaces and recreation. It forms bulkheads, partitions, walls, roofs and decks that shield communities from hazards. Steel is economical and recyclable.

We prepare our meals in steel pots, pans and ovens. …

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