In June of 2022, when President Biden implemented a two-year tariff exemption on solar modules made in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, he did so with the intention of boosting domestic manufacturing to support a growing solar industry. Fast forward almost a year, and in a vote of 56-41 vote, the U.S. Senate resolved to repeal the two-year pause on the tariffs. Today President Biden vetoed the repeal.
A statement released by the White House said that “for too long, because of unfair trade practices and underinvestment in domestic manufacturing, the United States has been reliant on China for solar energy products.” Since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August, numerous companies have announced plans to onshore solar manufacturing to the U.S. The White House said the country is on track to increase domestic module capacity eight-fold by the end of President Biden’s first term. Because it takes time to ramp up capacity, the tariff ruling supports U.S. businesses and solar industry workers, “while continuing to hold our trading partners accountable.”
President Biden stated that he does not intend to extend the tariff suspension past the conclusion of the two-year period, which would end in June 2024.
The rule implements a temporary, 24-month bridge to make sure that when these new factories are operational, we have a thriving solar installation industry ready to deploy American-made solar products to homes, businesses, and communities across the Nation. Passage of this resolution bets against American innovation. It would undermine these efforts and create deep uncertainty for American businesses and workers in the solar industry. Therefore, I am vetoing this resolution.
“President Biden’s veto has helped preserve our nation’s clean energy progress and prevented a bill from becoming law that would have eliminated 30,000 American jobs, including 4,000 solar manufacturing jobs,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This action is a reaffirmation of the administration’s commitment to business certainty in the clean energy sector, and a signal to companies to continue creating jobs, building domestic manufacturing capacity and investing in American communities.”
Hopper noted that the short-term tariff pause creates a bridge to a domestic manufacturing future. With the U.S. experiencing “an avalanche of solar manufacturing investment,” Hopper said that the pause could not have come at a better time.
“Every metric shows that the Biden administration’s policies are working to achieve both goals, and we thank the President for taking this action and protecting the livelihoods of 255,000 solar and storage workers nationwide,” Hopper concluded.
George Hershman, chief executive officer of SOLV Energy, a utility solar contractor, concurred that repeal of the moratorium would have “created business uncertainty, placed tens of thousands of clean energy jobs at risk, and stalled solar projects across the country.” He added that the President’s veto “of this harmful resolution is a victory for U.S. solar companies and the growing solar workforce.”
Calling the veto “a welcome step to avoid a disastrous impact on the U.S. economy,” Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council of Renewable Energy (ACORE), said that the Congressional Review Act repeal passed by Congress would have resulting in “many dozens of canceled solar projects, tens of thousands of lost jobs, and a dangerous increase in carbon emissions.”
“Thanks to the President’s veto, the U.S. solar industry can now resume its growth as we expand our domestic manufacturing base to better meet the growing U.S. demand for solar panels,” said Wetstone.
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