Biden waives solar panel tariffs and seeks to increase production – WSB-TV Channel 2

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WASHINGTON — (AP) — President Joe Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act to increase U.S. manufacturing of solar panels while declaring a two-year tariff exemption on panels from Southeast Asia. He is trying to revive an industry key to his climate change goals that advocates say has been disrupted by a federal investigation.

The White House announced on Monday that the measures were being implemented through executive branch actions and presidential proclamations. They follow months of complaints from industry groups, which say the solar sector is being hampered by supply chain issues due to an ongoing Commerce Department investigation into possible trade violations involving Chinese products. .

The Commerce Department announced in March that it was reviewing imports of solar panels from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia, over concerns that products from those countries could circumvent U.S. anti-dumping rules that limit imports from from China.

White House officials said Biden’s actions were aimed at increasing domestic production of solar panel parts, building installation materials, high-efficiency heat pumps and other components such as used cells. for fuels generated by clean energy. They called the tariff suspension affecting imports from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia a bridging measure while other efforts increase domestic solar power production – even as the administration remains supportive of trade laws US and Commerce Department investigation.

News that the Biden administration was set to ease solar tariffs pushed Wall Street futures higher early Monday.

The Commerce Department defended its investigation. Secretary Gina Raimondo told a Senate panel in May that the solar inquiry follows a process established by law that does not allow for consideration of climate change, supply chains or other factors.

Yet clean energy leaders have since warned that the investigation – which could result in retroactive tariffs of up to 240% – would severely hamper the US solar industry, resulting in thousands of layoffs and jeopardizing up to to 80% of the solar projects planned around. the country. It could jeopardize one of Biden’s main clean energy goals and run counter to his Democratic administration’s efforts for renewables such as wind and solar.

“The President’s announcement will rejuvenate domestic solar energy construction and manufacturing by restoring the predictability and business certainty that the Department of Commerce’s flawed investigation disrupted,” said Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean. Power Association and former Obama administration official. statement on Monday.

Others hit similar tones. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, applauded Biden’s “thoughtful approach to addressing the current crippled solar supply chain crisis.”

“Today’s actions protect existing solar jobs, will lead to increased employment in the solar industry, and foster a strong solar manufacturing base here at home,” Ross Hopper said in a statement.

The use of executive actions comes as the Biden administration’s clean energy tax cuts and other major proposals to encourage domestic green energy production have stalled in Congress.

The Defense Production Act allows the federal government to direct manufacturing production for national defense and has become a more common tool used by presidents in recent months. President Donald Trump’s administration used it to produce medical equipment and supplies during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden invoked his authority last month to prioritize increasing the nation’s supply of infant formula amid a nationwide shortage caused by the safety shutdown of the country’s largest infant formula factory. from the country.

Jean Su, director of the energy justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement that Biden’s announcement can “give critical momentum to the needed transition to solar power.”

“We hope this use of the Defense Production Act will be a turning point for the president, who must use all of his executive powers to confront the climate emergency head-on,” Su said.

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