Existing LNG projects that are planned or under construction in Southwest Louisiana should be protected from any higher tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum, U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins said Wednesday.

President Donald Trump announced on March 1 plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. He is expected to sign off on the new tariffs later today.

Higgins, R-Port Barre, sent a letter to the president on Tuesday, expressing his concerns with the proposed tariff. Higgins said he supports Trump’s effort to rebuild the American steel industry through higher tariffs, but they should only apply to future projects.

“A tariff on steel, if done right, will protect existing projects,” he said. “The epicenter of growth is right here in Southwest Louisiana.”

The LNG companies that have already invested money into the Southwest Louisiana region “shouldn’t be punished for buying (specialty) steel” from outside countries when it’s not available in the U.S., Higgins said.

“I want the steel industry to be reborn in America,” he said. “But there’s no domestic market right now, and that ties into existing projects.”

Since Trump’s announcement last week, Higgins said he has met several times with officials representing LNG companies. He said they have expressed similar concerns about the tariffs impacting the industrial projects in the region.

Micah Hirschfield, spokesperson for Magnolia LNG, said it’s too early to say how the tariffs would impact their project. He said they are hoping existing projects will be exempt from the tariffs.

“That would be beneficial to the entire LNG industry,” he said. “Tariffs are something we do not want to see.”

Most of the steel costs are associated with building pipelines, Hirschfield said. Magnolia doesn’t have that cost because the existing Kinder Morgan Louisiana Pipeline runs underneath the facility. But other area LNG projects that plan to build their own pipelines could “have significant steel charges,” he said.

Hirschfield said Magnolia officials appreciate Higgins for speaking out on the proposed tariffs.

“He understands the issue and has been at the forefront of making sure his position is known,” he said.

John Guidroz, American Press

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