In September, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that solar panels manufactured overseas “are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry.”
As a result, it is assessing a proposal by two struggling solar companies, Suniva and SolarWorld, to impose costly tariffs on panels from other countries; it will make its final recommendation to President Trump in mid-November, and the President will make his decision in January.
CRES Forum Director of Policy and Advocacy Charles Hernick recently penned an editorial for The Hill opposing these tariffs. Just last week, a new voice has joined the opposition to tariffs: Fox News host Sean Hannity, who refers to the tariffs as “bailouts.” Watch the short video clip below:
Imposing tariffs would effectively raise industry-wide costs, and it is estimated this could threaten 88,000 jobs, about one-third of the current American solar workforce. That’s because solar energy production creates jobs at many stages in the process—not just manufacturing. Indeed, most jobs are actually in system design, project development, installation, operation and management.
Losing so many jobs would be a huge setback. In 2016, there were over 260,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry. One in every 50 new jobs created was in the industry, which is growing at much faster than the rest of the economy.
“Under the Obama Administration, these companies only survived because they received taxpayer money,” Hannity explained in the video. “Now they want President Trump to also stick you with the bill for their bankrupt businesses—taxpayers should not have to bailout one foreign-owned company only for their foreign financiers to get another payout.”
Instead, we should seek coherent trade policy informed by free-market trade principles. In fact, it’s the perfect time: CRES Forum recently released an issue briefing on outlining how free trade provisions can be effectively maintained and improved to make NAFTA 2.0 work for American businesses and consumers interested in cheap, reliable, and clean energy.
Regardless, as a growing number of conservatives get behind clean energy, it’s great to see one as prominent as Mr. Hannity join them.