A congressman acts to limit competition in solid rocket motor production


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We’re here to help you! Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) in March introduced a new bill that requires U.S. companies building solid rocket motors to purchase the oxidizer from within the U.S.

That oxidizer, ammonium perchlorate, is only available from one Utah company, a company that also happens to belong to a member of the Washington establishment.

Some in industry are arguing the legislation is an earmark to help a now struggling business — American Pacific, owned by the Huntsmans of Utah — with political ties to the Trump administration. Jon Huntsman, former two-time Republican presidential candidate, is tapped to be the next ambassador to Russia.

And if the legislation passes as part of the fiscal year National Defense Authorization Act, the business would be propped up, but potentially at the expense of a larger solid rocket motor industry and the U.S. government, sources interviewed by Defense News argued.

Essentially, this bill would give Jon Huntsman’s company a monopoly and would likely increase the cost of making solid rocket motors.

The article is very detailed. While on the surface it sure looks like a case of crony capitalism, it is a bit more complicated. Demand for ammonium perchlorate has dropped since the shuttle was retired, causing Huntsman’s company to struggle. While it could be argued that this bill is an effort to save this company as well as encourage new American companies to form, there are many factors described in the article that suggest this isn’t going to happen, including this tidbit:

The other factor is the price for [ammonium perchlorate] will improve naturally when the government has more demand in roughly six years when NASA’s Space Launch System kicks off in full and the nuclear missile fleet is refreshed, so a solution that is more temporary could be in order, several sources suggest.

Since it is doubtful SLS will ever “kick off in full,” it is unlikely that demand for solid rocket motor oxidizer will ever rise as predicted. A better solution would be for Congress to mind its own business and let the market function normally. There are other companies in Europe providing this oxidizer, and the competition would force Huntsman’s company (as well as other new American companies) to innovate to stay competitive.

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5 comments

  • wayne

    Duncan Hunter, has a Conservative Review liberty-score, of 66%.

    Huntsman announced in May, it is merging with Clariant Corp in a $20 billion deal, which will make it the worlds leader in (certain) specialty chemicals.

    ALL the Huntsman’s, are crony-rino’s. The old-man only slightly less so.

  • Joe

    This does not make America great again! What happened to drain the swamp, all I see are establishment types feathering their nests at the expense of citizens, they know they can get away with it and do so.

  • wayne

    Joe–
    Nominally, Trump himself would like to return to the status quo of 2005-ish, and at best, he would like to return to the Clinton era of the mid 90’s. (with a huge dose of Industrial policy & protectionism thrown in the mix.)

    As for swamp-draining activities, first thing he did out of the gate, was to appoint Priebus as chief of staff. There will be very little draining, going on.
    (Then, they all acquiesced to turning a national security investigation, into a Trump hunting criminal investigation, which will consume 2 years.)
    Ryan and Mitch (with their friends Chuck & Nancy) largely control everything and are more concerned with keeping their fiefdom’s, and will continue to do the same lying, crony, rino, collude-with-the opposition, stuff they have always done, without fail. They will suck up to Trump when they see political-advantage, and quietly stab him in the back on everything else.

  • LocalFluff

    One could argue well for keeping some production of stuff under government control, because their supply is necessary for the military to hold the borders. But even if North Korea had world monopoly on ammonium perchlorate, I’m sure domestic providers would pop up within days if they boycotted the US. It is not a “strategically” crucial high tech component. (Isn’t this one of the bomb stuffs that a terrorist can cook up in their own kitchen?)

  • Commodude

    Again, and once more with feeling…..

    We’ve elected an outsider to a Constitutionally weak office and expect him to fix everything. The only way to continue change is to change the rest of the poltroons in D.C.

    The Presidency is the new shiny. The actual power lies in the bureaucracy and Congress.

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