Biden draws heat for invoking Defense Production Act for solar panels

President Biden drew criticism Monday after he invoked the Defense Production Act to potentially ramp up production of solar panels – with reporters and Republicans questioning the rationale for using special powers in wartime.

Renewable energy advocates, meanwhile, cheered the White House’s announcement that Biden would invoke the law “to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technology, including parts of solar panels.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) tweeted, “Biden’s irresponsible and arguably constitutionally corrupt misuse of the Defense Production Act should be of concern to all Americans. The DPA is not a get out of jail card to cover up lazy and inept governance, which is exactly how this administration uses it.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) questioned Biden’s priorities, Tweeter, “Can’t find formula for your newborn? Can’t afford to refuel? Don’t worry, @POTUS will have new solar panels ready in no time…”

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to potentially ramp up production of solar panels.

It’s unclear if the statement will have any short-term effect and it was also unclear if the timing had anything to do with record high gasoline and diesel prices. The White House statement made no mention of soaring prices at the pump.

The Department of Energy and the White House will bring together “key stakeholders” to discuss future steps to “maximize the impact of DPA tools,” the statement said.

Fox Business reporter Edward Lawrence asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the reason for invoking the DPA.

Renewable energy advocates applauded the White House announcement.
Renewable energy advocates applauded the White House announcement.

“What is the real urgency in the solar industry for the Defense Production Act? Lawrence asked at Jean-Pierre’s regular briefing.

“The president, when he takes the Defense Production Act, it is to ensure that he is up to the American people,” replied Jean-Pierre. “It’s an important tool that he has used many times and has been incredibly effective.”

Jean-Pierre added: “He invokes the Defense Production Act to rapidly develop domestic production of solar panel parts, building insulation, heat pumps, etc.”

The Obama administration's aggressive stance on solar planers sparked the Solyndra scandal.
The Obama administration’s aggressive stance on solar panels sparked the Solyndra scandal.

She said Biden separately “is bringing the full force of the federal government’s purchasing power to support America’s clean energy manufacturers, and he’s giving America’s solar employers the near-term stability they need to build energy projects.” ‘clean energy and provide more affordable energy’.

In response to another reporter’s question, Jean-Pierre said that invoking the DPA would not benefit solar panels imported from China.

“These actions do not apply to any material imported from China. Import duties will remain in place on solar cells and panels from China or Taiwan,” she said.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) welcomed Biden's comments.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) welcomed Biden’s comments.

The Biden administration has not specified a national defense reason for using the law to boost solar panels.

When Biden was vice president, the Obama administration pushed aggressively for solar power generation — sparking the Solyndra scandal when a politically connected company went bankrupt after securing $535 million in federal loan guarantees .

The Defense Production Act was notably used by the Trump administration to compel companies to manufacture ventilators and test swabs early in the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently has been invoked by Biden to possibly expedite the production of infant formula to reduce shortages.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) called Biden's comments
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) called Biden’s comments “irresponsible and arguably constitutionally corrupt.”

Many Democrats have expressed approval for Biden’s latest move, which can sway corporate behavior simply by the threat of action.

“Kudos to Biden for using the DPA to expand domestic solar panel manufacturing,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who wrote that the action could improve “US energy independence” while by boosting American businesses and workers.

“Great to see [Biden] invoke the DPA in the name of clean energy today,” tweeted billionaire investor Tom Steyer, a renewable energy proponent who ran against Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. “This plan will kickstart American manufacturing, accelerate solar innovation, and create good jobs. important step forward.”