Senator Rick Scott Wants To ‘Keep China Out’ of U.S. Solar Energy

Senator Rick Scott and eight of his colleagues in the Senate don’t want China to become the world’s new Green OPEC. They’ve introduced legislation this week that will try to stop that from happening.

Some 80% of the world’s solar panels are Made in China. They are more than halfway there already. If the U.S. is going to abandon fossil fuels in favor of solar panels, the last thing we want is to be importing them from CCP-backed companies.

We were once dependent on imported oil, and we would be wise to learn from history that we shouldn’t be dependent on foreign nations for our renewable energy.

Scott and other Senate Republicans introduced their Keep America Out of Solar Energy bill on Tuesday. The impetus for the bill was to go after China for human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. On the same day this bill was announced, the State Department said in its 2020 Human Rights Country Report that China was committing genocide against an ethnic minority through random imprisonment, forced labor, and forced sterilization, among other things.

The bill “prohibits the use of federal funds to buy solar panels from Communist China,” Scott said in a statement. “It sends a clear message to General Secretary Xi that the United States will not turn a blind eye to his genocide and human rights abuses.”

Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Marsha Blackburn, John Kennedy, Tom Cotton, Shelley Moore Capito, Josh Hawley and John Barrasso all signed onto the bill as well.

According to their joint press release, the Keep China out of Solar Energy Act:

  • Requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop standards and guidelines to prohibit Federal funds from being used to purchase solar panels manufactured or assembled by entities with ties to the Communist Party of China.
  • Requires the Comptroller of the United States to submit to Congress a report on the amount of solar panels procured by Federal departments and agencies from covered entities.
  • Requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to conduct an independent study of the domestic market of solar panel production and the global supply chain and workforce involved in solar panel production.

Industry advocates have been telling China solar manufacturers to get some of their U.S.-bound solar production off the mainland, a move that Chinese companies have been doing for at least two years now with production in Malaysia, Thailand, and even Florida.

The Chinese solar juggernauts have invested at least $47 billion in solar since 2005. At the same time, more than 100 American companies were put out of business, amounting to a loss of $10 billion in investment and thousands of good-paying jobs.

CPA recommends a “Made-in-USA solar tax credit” for local solar manufacturers based on the U.S. value-added in their product and their annual sales. We also recommend strengthened Buy American policies requiring the federal government to buy only U.S.-made solar equipment and power generated from solar panels made right here in America. The Department of Homeland Security should also consider a ban on polysilicon, a key supply chain item for solar panels and semiconductors, that comes from Xinjiang forced labor. And the U.S. should levy persistent, long-term tariffs on all inputs in the solar supply chain, like solar cells, in order to reindustrialize the sector and reshore the key components that go into making a solar panel.

“This bill would give a huge boost to the U.S. solar manufacturing industry by enlisting the buying power of the federal government to support solar modules and their key inputs made here at home,” says CPA chief economist Jeff Ferry. “This is a great proposal and should be a model for other industries.”

Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA added, “We are very supportive of this legislation. Establishing the criteria for excluding CCP solar within the legislation, rather than asking OMB to create the rules, would make it even better. There are times when agency rulemaking can be influenced by the import lobby and frustrate the intent of Congress.”

See Reclaiming the U.S. Solar Supply Chain from China, by Jeff Ferry, CPA Chief Economist.




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