The Senate solar split

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI AND JOSH SIEGEL, Politico • Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Biden administration has until Feb. 6 to decide whether to extend Section 201 tariffs on imported solar panels, and the matter is splitting the Senate into bipartisan factions fiercely pushing in both directions. The matter gets at a conflict between two of the administration’s key priorities: The build out of renewable energy and the protection of the U.S. manufacturing sector and its jobs.

Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman led a bipartisan group this week urging Biden to extend the tariffs to give U.S. solar manufacturing a chance to grow. Chinese-made solar components are considerably cheaper but are far more carbon intensive than their U.S. counterparts and are riddled with ethical concerns surrounding forced labor reports in Xinjiang. Democrats included tax credits for domestic solar manufacturing in their reconciliation package, hoping to make the sector more independent of foreign supply chains, but U.S. manufacturers still say further protections are needed.

Meanwhile, Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) led their own competing group urging Biden to nix the tariffs to encourage solar deployment, arguing overseas supply chains are a market reality for the rapid build out of solar needed to reach the administration’s emissions goals. The Solar Energy Industries Association also backs letting the tariffs expire, saying they make solar components far more expensive.