Perry defends solar tariffs abroad

Source: Christa Marshall and Hannah Northey, E&E News reporters • Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perry today defended President Trump’s solar tariffs and proclaimed that the United States is exporting “freedom” by shipping oil and gas abroad.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Perry said the United States has no reason to fear potential trade retaliation from China or other countries over Trump’s plan to enact 30 percent tariffs on imported solar cells and modules.

“You want to compete against the United States? Bring it!” Perry said during an interview with “Mornings with Maria” on Fox Business. “But don’t subsidize in a way that’s unfair. Don’t get into the market and try to gobble all the market, and then all of a sudden, after you’ve choked everybody else out of the market, guess what, prices go up.”

President Trump signed the tariffs into law yesterday, fueling warnings from the solar industry that jobs would be lost and that the tariffs would do little to help manufacturing. Supporters counter that tariffs are needed to level unfair competition with subsidized imports, primarily from Asia (E&E News PM, Jan. 23).

The Chinese government already is threatening a legal challenge to Trump’s decision, although it’s not clear yet exactly what that might look like.

Perry is one of several Cabinet members serving as spokesmen for the Trump administration before some of the world’s most influential business executives and politicians in Davos. He went on to push an “America first” message focused squarely on domestic U.S. gas and oil.

Perry said there are “no strings attached” for countries eager to import liquefied natural gas or oil from the United States, and that they should view the United States as a “reliant” source of energy, pointing specifically to allowing drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The secretary also touched on the Trump administration’s desire to duplicate the oil and gas production seen along the Texas Gulf Coast in the mountains of Appalachia.

Perry’s comments on tariffs arrive on the same day that the Energy Department announced a $3 million prize competition to support innovation in U.S. solar manufacturing.

Jointly run by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the prize will link entrepreneurs who have promising ideas in solar manufacturing with a network of DOE’s national laboratories and the private sector, according to a release.

There will also be support in linking promising technology with venture capitalists, according to DOE.