The House Natural Resources Committee voted 28 – 13 Wednesday in favor of H.R. 957, The American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act, authored by U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis that restores the federal royalty to 2% for soda ash produced on federal lands.

In 2011 federal soda ash royalty rates were raised by the Obama Administration from 2% to 6 %. The increase by the Administration was voluntary, and occurred during very difficult economic times in the U.S., while at the same time China’s state-owned industry was enjoying heavy government subsidies.

Soda ash is a commonly used product found in household cleaners, detergents, and auto-glass. Lummis says Sweetwater County soda ash producers employ nearly 3,000 workers in Wyoming alone, along with hundreds of longshoremen at the ports of Portland, Oregon and Port Arthur, Texas. Soda Ash production accounts for nearly one billion dollars to the balance of trade for the U.S. Lummis says setting a fair royalty rate is critical to maintaining the American soda ash industry’s competitive edge in the global market.