An Open Letter to our Pittsburgh Family

For 120 years, U. S. Steel has been intertwined with the development and evolution of Pittsburgh.  Together, we built a proud legacy of steelmaking that made this America’s “Steel City.

Almost two years ago, U. S. Steel was excited to stand shoulder to shoulder with our workers, community leaders, and neighbors to announce an investment in state-of-the-art steel casting and rolling technology and a cogeneration plant at the Mon Valley Works. That was a good day.

Today is a difficult day. U. S. Steel is setting aside this project as we step forward to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. In this world – a world that still needs steel – we need to find aggressive decarbonization solutions. The project we had planned in 2019 would have decreased our carbon footprint, but we must now move farther and faster. Just as steel transformed the world, the world is now transforming steel.

Over the past two years we have carried the ball down the field as far as possible without the issuance of the permits necessary to begin construction, which we applied for when we announced the project, ten months prior to the onset of COVID-19. We commissioned the manufacturing of the equipment and began site preparations. However, with over $170 million invested and equipment being stored in Pittsburgh-area warehouses, we’re still only at the beginning stages of project execution.  By contrast, during this same time period, a competing steel manufacturer in another state announced a new steel mill and will be ready to make steel this year.

A lot has changed in those two years.  At the onset of the pandemic, U. S. Steel agreed with the need for the County Health Department to temporarily delay its permitting process for the Mon Valley Works, but this delay allowed for a consequential window of time during which we expanded our understanding of steelmaking’s future in a rapidly decarbonizing world. The world is changing rapidly and we’re on the ten-yard line with 90 yards ahead of us.

This month, U. S. Steel announced our goal to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.  We also became the first North American steel producer to join ResponsibleSteel™, a global organization promoting sustainable steelmaking.  These are now guideposts, defining strategic pathways and business decisions.  We need to take big, bold steps, and we are ready to partner with leaders in industry, innovation, and government who care about American-made steel and what the Mon Valley complex could look like in the sustainable future yet to be imagined.

In the wake of the 2020 pandemic and the increased urgency of the climate crisis, we are reviewing all projects and facilities with an even greater focus on their implications for our carbon footprint.  By early 2023, we will permanently idle Batteries 1, 2 and 3 at Clairton Plant, representing approximately 17% of coke production – further improving environmental performance. U. S. Steel remains committed to steelmaking in the Mon Valley for the next generation, with future investments to be developed in alignment with our 2050 carbon neutral goal.

The decision to cancel this project is difficult but is made with optimism for what the future holds for the Mon Valley Works – an economic powerhouse that generated $4.6 billion to the region’s economy in 2018. I have no doubt that our skilled and dedicated workforce at the Mon Valley Works will help lead this change – we have always forged ahead together.  Through their commitment to safety and our community, they continued operating throughout the pandemic, while achieving record setting environmental performance at the Mon Valley Works. The work to achieve those environmental milestones is something that all Allegheny County residents can be proud of.  The Mon Valley Works has been a pillar of U. S. Steel and will continue to supply key customers in strategic markets, including appliance and construction. 

As we set new horizons for our future, we remain honored that Pittsburgh is our home.  U. S. Steel began its journey making steel in Pittsburgh over a century ago and today we energetically continue our journey with a bright vision for the next generation of sustainable steelmaking.

David B. Burritt
President & CEO
United States Steel Corporation