US President Joe Biden on Monday will suspend tariffs on solar panel imports from four countries for two years and invoke a key power to enforce domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies, the White House said.
The moves aim to increase renewable capacity and tackle climate change, a priority for the president, whose green ambitions have met with mixed success.
“Today’s clean energy technologies are a critical part of the arsenal we must leverage to reduce energy bills for families, reduce risks to our electric grid, and address the urgent crisis of a changing climate,” the White House said in one information sheet.
It added that compared to when Biden took office, the United States is on track to triple domestic solar production capacity from 7.5 gigawatts to 22.5 gigawatts by 2024, enough to power 3.3 million homes, each years to switch to solar energy.
Tariffs on certain solar parts from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — but not China — will be lifted as a “bridge” to ensure the United States has access to enough parts to meet electricity needs while domestic capacity expands .
China is excluded as the Commerce Department investigates whether some Chinese companies are avoiding US tariffs by assembling parts in the four countries.
At the same time, Biden’s administration will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to speed up production and use the federal government’s purchasing power to boost demand.
Parts of solar panels, building insulation and efficient heat pumps are all subject to the DPA.
Former President Donald Trump used the same powers to ramp up production of medicines and equipment during the Covid pandemic, and it was also invoked during World War II.
Most recently, Biden used the law to help baby food manufacturers overcome a production outage.
The administration will also seek to allow more clean energy projects on public lands, including solar and wind power.
“The fact is, with a stronger clean energy arsenal, the United States can also be a stronger power partner for our allies around the world, especially in light of Putin’s war in Ukraine,” a senior administration official told reporters.
“The stakes are high and the President is taking action.”
Biden managed to get Congress to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a pillar of his climate policy, but failed to pass a second bill, the Build Back Better Act.
At the same time, he has been criticized by environmental groups for plans to resume oil and gas drilling on public lands and betray a campaign promise.
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