McCarthy requests reduction in soda ash royalties

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has partnered with 30 of his colleagues to request that the U.S. Department of the Interior support the proposed “Non-Energy Solid Leasable Mineral Royalty Rate Reduction” regulation.

In a letter to the DOI, House representatives requested reducing the royalty rate for soda ash, a primary raw material used in the manufacturing of glass, detergents and other household products.

“The purpose of this proposed rule is to address shortcomings with existing royalty rate reduction regulations,” said the letter.

The proposal allows the Buruea of Land Management to make its own determination of need for an industry-wide royalty rate reduction.

“Currently, the domestic soda ash industry faces severe and unprecedented global competition from synthetic soda ash manufactured in China,” the letter continued.

“Final approval of this rule will strengthen U.S. production and export of natural soda ash, and will ensure that our domestic soda ash industry remains competitive and robust.”

Searles Valley Minerals in Trona extracts and ships some 1.75 million tons of chemicals per year — including soda ash.

Because the plant operates on government land, Searles Valley pays millions of dollars each year to federal and state governments, feeding into the revenue streams for local school districts.

“As supporters of the domestic soda ash industry, we thank you for advancing this rulemaking,” said the letter, concluding that a lowered rate will level the playing field in domestic and global markets, allowing U.S. industry to expand and add jobs throughout the supply chain.

“This will be a great advantage to Searles Valley Minerals,” said Arzell Hale, spokesperson for the Trona plant.

“We are facing serious competition from Turkey and China with the manufacturing of soda ash.”

Hale also noted that in light of the recent earthquakes and the millions of dollars in revenues lost from disrupted operations, “Our period of recovery will be very long.”

Story First Published: 2019-12-20