Biden Administration’s Gutting of 201 Solar Tariffs is a Gift to Beijing

WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) heavily criticized the Biden administration’s decision to exclude bifacial solar panels in its extension of the Section 201 solar safeguard tariffs — a move that Bank of America bluntly called out as rendering the tariffs “largely toothless.” This decision is an outright rejection of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) unanimous and bipartisan recommendation that the 201 tariffs should be extended and include bifacial solar products. Last month, CPA outlined why this type of 201 extension would decimate U.S. solar manufacturers. 

“The Biden administration’s 201 extension on solar products is an ineffective extension in name only,” said Zach Mottl, CPA’s Chairman. “Instead of pursuing policies to boost U.S. solar manufacturing and create green jobs in America, President Biden gutted the 201 solar safeguard tariffs by excluding bifacial panels—a move that will ensure a tsunami of cheap Chinese solar products, made with forced labor and produced by dirty coal-fired power plants, flood into the U.S.”

In a speech this week, President Biden said, “To build a truly strong economy, we need a future that’s made in America.” The Biden administration’s 201 extension is a policy that runs directly counter to the president’s statement. With this decision, the Biden administration has chosen solar cells made in China’s coal fired factories that will take one third of their lives to burn off their own carbon footprint before fighting climate change over clean energy produced solar products made in America.

“Make no mistake, this 201 extension is a gift to China and their heavily-subsidized solar manufacturers,” continued Mottl. “This decision will result in factory closures in the U.S., the loss of American jobs, and at least 10 GW of planned manufacturing capacity will likely be canceled. China sympathizers may believe that gutting the 201 solar tariffs will not affect the U.S. solar manufacturing industry as long as Congress supports domestic producers. This is flat out wrong. Without trade remedies to level the playing field for U.S. solar manufacturers that are competing against heavily subsidized Chinese companies, it won’t matter if Congress passes a domestic tax credit for American producers.”

In a new poll of registered voters, conducted by Morning Consult for CPA, voters signaled overwhelming support for domestic solar manufacturing, with 9 out of 10 respondents and nearly 100% of voters who identify as liberal, saying that it is important for the United States to manufacture renewable energy equipment like solar panels here in America. The poll shows a significant majority (61%) of voters, including 66% of Democrats, will oppose candidates that support the continued importation of solar panels produced by Chinese companies. Additionally, a significant majority (55%) of voters, including 60% of Independents, said that they are less likely to support a candidate who supports addressing climate change by importing Chinese solar panels.

Last year, CPA released a white paper that documents the fact that the Section 201 solar tariffs have had no negative impact on the U.S. market for solar energy installations, which grew 43% in 2020. Solar installations are set to be more than 50% greater than they were expected to be prior to the implementation of the 201 tariffs in 2017. Importantly, several U.S. solar module manufacturers have ramped up production substantially in the last three years under the stimulus of the Section 201 safeguard tariffs on solar module imports, leading U.S producers to achieve a 10-year high in market share of 19.8% in 2019.


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