The Obama administration will set duties on solar products from China and Taiwan that combined could exceed more than 200 percent, adding fuel to a renewable-energy clash between the U.S. and China.
The Commerce Department also finalized its plan to include in the tariffs any solar panels assembled in China, no matter the origin of the cells.
The department issued final duties on solar cells manufactured in China and Taiwan in a case brought by SolarWorld AG (SWVK), a German company with a factory in Oregon. The U.S. International Trade Commission must rule in the last step before the tariffs are finalized. A decision is due next month.
Now if you believe that climate change is an urgent, nay, eschatological priority, wouldn't you want to encourage as many people as possible to start using solar panels to lessen our dependence on carbon-based energy? How on earth does drastically raising the price of solar panels through government action do that? It doesn't.
Tariffs and duties on cheaper Chinese solar panels do, however, keep more federal subsidies flowing to American alternative energy companies. And those companies spend a fair amount on influence peddling. Note that SolarWorld's annual lobbying expenditures doubled when Obama was up for reelection, and SolarWorld's stock is up a little over 10 percent from yesterday on the heels of the announcement. I don't know if SolarWorld, a German company with a factory in Oregon, is guilty of doing anything more than being on the wrong side of economic history by opposing free trade. I do know that there's a pretty big precedent for solar energy companies getting political favors from the Obama administration.
This late in the Obama administration the name "Solyndra" almost seems quaint. Despite the undeniably scandalous facts surrounding that particular company and its political donations, there was a flurry of stories last month saying that the Department of Energy loan program that enabled Solyndra was actually turning a profit, and liberal journalists took a victory lap. However, the claim the loans were making money turned out to be misleading bunk even though almost no one bothered to correct their previous stories saying otherwise.
I don't doubt the sincerity of many who are sounding the alarm about global warming, even if I do find myself often doubting their facts. I'm more inclined to wonder how cognizant these true believers are that crony capitalists and the Democratic party have turned their cause into a racket. If you believe that alternative energy sources must be adopted as quickly as possible to prevent environmental calamity, what the Obama administration is doing to raise the cost of solar panels is inexcusable. If, on the other hand, you are skeptical of the Obama administration's self-serving priorities, it makes perfect sense.
First there was Solyndra. The company was going to deliver cutting edge solar technology. It didn't happen and the company is now defunct after running through half a billion or so of government money.
When solar panel maker Solyndra declared bankruptcy in September 2011, the Obama administration defended its $535 million loan guarantee to the company by touting the need to compete with China. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, then executive director of the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office, said, “[In 2010, China] alone provided more than $30 billion in credit to the country’s largest solar manufacturers through the government-controlled China Development Bank. That’s roughly 20 times larger than America’s investment in the same time period.”
Lis Smith, a spokesman for President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, touted Solyndra by saying the failed energy company that received federally backed loans has been "widely praised as successful and innovative."
Mitt Romney's latest web ad targets President Obama's inability to create jobs, the failures of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, and "contracts steered to ‘friends & family.'" Watch here:
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics, takes to Facebook today to review the Avengers, a movie about a bunch of superheroes banding together to save the world, “which focuses on a new, limitless clean energy source called ‘The Tesseract,’” according to Chu.
Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel firm at the center of the Obama administration's green energy loan program scandal, still owes U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. So why is it destroying millions of dollars in saleable assets? CBS San Francisco reports:
Thankfully, most Americans were probably too busy with the holiday to read the preposterous editorial yesterday in the New York Times. The Grey Lady examined the Solyndra scandal and concluded Republicans are really off base for having the temerity to complain about throwing taxpayer dollars down a rathole in the name of enriching big Democratic donors: