In his attempt to support the increased adoption of solar energy across the country, President Joe Biden handed a victory to China that could hurt our own solar industry.
The Biden administration announced last week that it would authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, including parts of solar panels. Good.
But then, in a one step forward, two steps back approach, it will also ban new tariffs for two years on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Since Chinese solar companies have already shifted production to many of these Southeast Asian countries, the Biden administration has essentially allowed China to circumvent existing tariffs.
“Today’s proclamation directly undermines U.S. solar manufacturing by providing unfettered access to state-subsidized Chinese solar companies for the next two years,” Samantha Sloan, vice president of First Solar, told cleveland.com.
“It sends the message that corporations can circumvent US laws and that the US government will let them off the hook as long as they are backed by well-heeled political pressure campaigns.”
First Solar manufactures solar panels in Perrysburg, Ohio. Sloan went on to point out that in addition to not allowing the transition to greater use of green energy technology to be driven by U.S. manufacturers, the use of the Defense Production Act is “an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money and well short of a sustainable solar industrial policy.”
Even U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, understood the absurdity.
“China’s long history of dumping and tariff evasion demands rigorous scrutiny and appropriate sanctions,” Captur said.
“While I welcome the administration’s focus on spurring domestic manufacturing of critical solar components, any effort that tips the playing field further in China’s favor is bad for fed up American workers. predatory business practices. We’ve seen China play this game before on everything from steel to solar. We need to invest in American companies that are working to deliver an affordable, reliable, and secure energy future.
Taxpayers won’t like it, the national solar industry doesn’t like it, and Biden’s allies in Congress don’t like it.
One wonders, then, who was Biden trying to please?