Biden orders emergency steps to boost U.S. solar production

Biden orders emergency steps to boost U.S. solar production

U.S. President Joe Biden ordered emergency measures to boost crucial supplies to U.S. solar manufacturers and declared a two-year tariff exemption on solar panels from Southeast Asia as he attempted to jumpstart progress toward his climate change-fighting goals.

His invoking of the Defense Production Act and his other executive actions come amid complaints by industry groups that the solar sector is being slowed by supply chain problems due to a Commerce Department inquiry into possible trade violations involving Chinese products. Word of the White House's actions caused solar energy companies to gain ground on Wall Street.

White House officials said Biden's actions aim to increase domestic production of solar panel parts, building installation materials, high-efficiency heat pumps and other components including cells used for clean-energy generated fuels. They called the tariff suspension affecting imports from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia a bridge measure while other efforts increase domestic solar power production - even as the administration remains supportive of U.S. trade laws and the Commerce Department investigation.

Clean energy leaders have long warned that the investigation - which could result in retroactive tariffs of up to 240% - would severely hinder the U.S. solar industry, leading to thousands of layoffs and imperiling up to 80% of planned solar projects around the country.

The department counters that rates exceeding 200% for solar products would not apply to the vast majority of imports. They instead typically apply to uncooperative companies that cannot differentiate themselves from China's government or Communist Party. 

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