Washington (Platts)–23 May 2017 540 pm EDT/2140 GMT

As steel has taken on a more prominent role in Washington in 2017, it’s leading to a more positive outlook for US steel producers, according to Nucor CEO John Ferriola.

“We can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel, and this time it’s not a freight train coming at us,” Ferriola said at the American Iron and Steel Institute and Steel Manufacturers Association joint 2017 general meeting, held Tuesday in Washington. “Things are looking up.”

Ferriola, who on Tuesday was elected to serve a second term as AISI chairman, said having a trade team in place under President Donald Trump’s administration that includes members that have worked in or closely with the steel industry, including Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, will likely help steelmakers see some relief from issues that have dogged the US steel industry for years.

“The Trump administration continues to show commitment to the steel industry and, very importantly, manufacturing as a whole,” Ferriola said. Trump’s recent executive orders have addressed issues that specifically affect steel, Ferriola said, and most notably, under Ross’ leadership the US Department of Commerce in April announced it was conducting a Section 232 investigation regarding the US steel industry and the impact of steel imports on national security.

“We welcome last month’s 232 investigation that was initiated by President Trump and Secretary Ross because it sends a strong signal to China and other countries that this administration is serious about cracking down on trade abuses,” Ferriola said.

Additionally, steelmakers stand to benefit from the administration’s decision to freeze new Clean Power Plan regulations and repeal rules adopted during the last eight years, he said.

“The Obama administration imposed a number of major regulations, particularly targeting energy and the environment, that would have driven up our energy costs tremendously,” Ferriola said. “Regulatory reform will be a positive step forward and encourage other manufacturing investment in the US.