All energy pipelines built in the United States would have to contain 100 percent American steel, under legislation proposed by Rep. Rick Nolan.
The Minnesota Democrat - representing the Iron Range in his state's northern region - is blasting the quality of foreign steel. And what he called the dumping of that product into the U.S. marketplace.
Nolan's bill would likely affect how the Keystone Pipeline could be constructed - if that ever happens. The proposed Alberta, Canada-to-Louisiana project would pipe oil thousands of miles. Supporters say it would create an estimated 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the U.S.
Critics argue the Keystone pipeline presents grave environmental threat. Either way, a decision on the project has been delayed until after the November election by President Barack Obama's administration.
"Simply put, this bill requires virtually all new pipeline constructed in America to use materials that are Made in America," Nolan said at a recent news conference in Eveleth, Minn., surrounded by Steelworkers at United Steelworkers District 11 headquarters. "Our national interest requires that American jobs, America's environment, and the health and safety of American pipeline workers and citizens be protected from the effects of foreign steel illegally dumped into our marketplace to undermine our domestic iron ore and steel industries."
The bill marks the first time American "iron ore and taconite" workers and mines are included in the federal "Buy American" steel provisions, according to Nolan's office.
The steel proposal is the type of populist issue Nolan has been pushing since he returned to the House in January 2013 - after a 32-year absence. He went back to Washington by beating a tea party-backed Republican freshman swept in by the 2010 Republican wave.
The 2014 Almanac of American Politics writes that "When he quit in 1981, Noland told The Washington Post, 'Congress is relatively impotent to make the changes the country needs.' But now, a full generation later, he says he's confident he can get things done in a district that overlaps in some southern areas with his old one."
Nolan, 70, was among the Watergate reform class of 1974. In 1979 he traveled to Cuba to secure the release of American prisoners. The Almanac notes that "Nolan and Cuban leader Fidel Castro bonded over fishing, and Castro - after agreeing to the prisoners' release - extended an invitation for him to return for some deep-seat angling."
"Nolan also battled what he saw as the federal government's favoritism of large farms and pushed legislation for education programs, equipment loans, and tax-code changes to benefit small farmers."