With the United States' international trade watchdog set to vote today on whether the U.S. solar industry has been harmed by questionable Chinese trade practices, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 58 of his colleagues in Congress encouraged the Obama administration to increase its efforts to level the clean energy playing field with China.
"We write to express our concerns regarding very serious allegations of unfair trade practices by the government of China concerning clean energy products. We urge you to take all available measures to expeditiously investigate these allegations and take swift and appropriate action based on those findings," writes Rep. Markey and his colleagues to President Obama in today's bipartisan letter signed by 53 House members and 6 Senators total. Markey is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
"We cannot strengthen our energy security, or create jobs and economic growth, by replacing Middle East petroleum imports with unfairly traded clean energy technologies imported from China," the letter continues.
The International Trade Commission will vote at 11 AM today on whether the U.S. solar industry has adequately demonstrated "injury" from Chinese trade manipulation. Last month, a coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers filed the petitions seeking relief from illegal Chinese trade practices. These American companies allege that Chinese imports of solar cells are being dumped into the American market at prices far below fair value, and that Chinese solar cell and panel producers receive massive subsidies and unfair advantages from the Chinese government. The U.S. industry has lost thousands of jobs as a result, and at least seven U.S. companies have been forced to close or downsize in the past 18 months.
"It is critical for American businesses and workers to be able to fairly compete in this rapidly growing sector," writes Rep. Markey and his colleagues. "Already an $80 billion annual market, demand for solar panels is anticipated to continue growing as intense competition and technological breakthroughs further drive down prices."