It’s a clear sign that the solar has become relevant across all sections of American society when pundits on Fox News, who have previously described Climate Change as “phony science”, are taking positions on solar trade cases.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has issued an audio statement to make the argument that President Trump should reject proposals for trade action by Suniva and SolarWorld, calling any proposed remedies a “bailout” for failed, foreign-owned manufacturers. This clip ran for several weeks in South Carolina, a nascent solar market, in advance of a visit by President Trump.
The 78-second clip, available on YouTube, shows Hannity’s misunderstanding of and/or disregard for basic facts regarding the solar industry, relying instead on the trademark Fox News trope of blaming former President Obama. This includes the bizarre claim that under Obama SolarWorld and Suniva “only survived because they received taxpayer money”, and that the “Obama gravy train has run dry”.
The talking points – including the “foreign-owned” line – read straight from Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) messaging. While this is not the first time that SEIA has engaged with right-wing groups and individuals normally hostile to renewable energy, including an alliance with American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation to oppose the Section 201 petition, it does suggest that SEIA is reaching out to media outlets and speakers who President Trump and his base are likely to listen to.
This is exactly the tactic that SEIA CEO Abigail Hopper described to pv magazine staff when asked how SEIA strategy deals with the ultimate decision being made by a president who has called for his advisors to bring him tariffs and has shown a disinterest in technical details.
Correction: This article was corrected on October 19 at 10:23 AM EST. An earlier version stated that Sean Hannity had devoted a section of his show to this issue, when instead the recording in question came from a radio spot that Hannity had done. We regret the error.