On to round 5: Solar trade report filing sparks new round of lobbying

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Could December 6 become the second day that will live in infamy that week?

That’s when a multi-agency meeting will take place in Washington D.C. to hear pro- and anti-tariff arguments as they weigh what their recommendations will be to President Trump regarding the solar trade case that has captivated the industry for the past six months.

And intense lobbying of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reached its crescendo yesterday when the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) made public its recommendations one week after the delivering the report to President Trump.

The USITC didn’t use the time between its ruling and the issuance of the report to make any significant changes to their recommendations, which essentially stayed exactly the same as those that have been widely reported here at pv magazine.

Groups opposing the trade action all made last-ditch efforts to mobilize the industry to file commen ts with the USTR, including last ditch pleas from Adam Browning at Vote Solar and Paul Nathanson at the Energy Trade Action Coalition, as well as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) The refrain was largely the same: Don’t impose tariffs on imported solar modulesbecause it will put at risk more than 88,000 jobs in the solar industry.

Tony Clifford, chief development officer at Standard Solar, a leading solar energy company, expressed his frustration at what he sees as an attempt for failing foreign companies to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to bail out their investors.

These foreign firms can’t get any satisfaction from their own governments — their own governments — in this fight,” Clifford said. “Shouldn’t that tell you something? Can we all agree there’s something fishy about the whole trade case at its core?

SEIA is planning a rally in Washington D.C. on December 6 in an attempt to sway the meeting away from recommending tariffs to Trump, although it’s impossible to predict if such lobbying will have any effect on Trump’s thinking.

If the solar industry wants its voices to be heard one more time, December 6 is the date. However, the fate of the trade action lies solely in the hands of Trump, who has until January 13 to make a final decision about imposing tariffs and he is not bound by any of the recommendations that will cross his desk.