On the Senate Floor, Senator Carper Opposes Job-Killing Solar Tariffs
Additional solar tariffs would eliminate tens of thousands of American jobs and jeopardize the transition to a solar future
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) called out the urgent need to protect the solar industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it has created. He highlighted the dire situation that could result from the passage of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would repeal the solar tariff suspension issued by the Biden Administration and urged his colleagues to vote no.
“Today, we are once again facing the same threats to American jobs that we faced nearly a year ago. It’s unimaginable to me that we would be willing to make an unforced error in our commitment to protecting our planet. We shouldn’t be fighting the Biden Administration’s work to preserve the trade balance. We simply can’t afford to make a mistake that could halt solar deployment and cost us so many American jobs,” said Senator Carper.
Read the Senator’s prepared remarks below or watch the speech in full at the link here.
M. President. I rise today because our critical work to combat the effects of climate change are at risk.
I am particularly concerned about the efforts some of our colleagues are undertaking to make the dire situation for our planet even worse.
Every day we hear about the horrific scenes that are caused by natural disasters. Wildfires in the West and in the Northeast. Flooding and hurricanes in the South. Tornados like the one we had just last month in Sussex County, Delaware as well as the countless tornadoes across the Midwest. And the list goes on.
These disasters are devastating families across our country and wreaking havoc on our economy. Over 3.3 million Americans were displaced due to natural disasters in 2022 and on top of that, billions of dollars are spent every year in the aftermath of these disasters. Let me say that again: 3.3 million Americans were displaced in a single year. That is double the number of people in Montana and Vermont combined.
We cannot sit idly by – like some of our colleagues today would have us do – or allow for a reversal of the policies that are working to mitigate this devastation.
As we all know, the solar industry has been critical in helping us combat the effects of climate change. By transitioning to cleaner energy solutions, we are taking the necessary steps to reduce our impact – the human impact – on our warming planet.
The solar industry is not just good for our planet, it’s good for American workers. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created – right here on our soil – to grow the solar industry and strengthen our supply chain. The Inflation Reduction Act took these efforts one step further, allocating the largest investment we’ve ever made in the solar industry. The Inflation Reduction Act is already creating more jobs for more Americans across the country and expanding our domestic solar manufacturing capacity.
With the commitment of the Biden Administration, we are on track to increase domestic solar panel manufacturing capacity 8-fold by the end of next year, generating up to $40 billion in new investments. Let me say that again. We could increase our domestic solar panel manufacturing 8-fold by the end of next year. Why would we get in the way of this progress? We can only ensure this outcome is possible if we overcome the significant challenge presented here today.
As you might remember, last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation into solar tariffs imposed on countries in Southeast Asia paralyzed the industry and halted the supply chains of critical materials for American solar deployment. Rightfully, the Biden administration stepped in and announced the suspension of these tariffs. This action saved tens of thousands of jobs, allowing our transition to cleaner energy solutions to continue as demand for solar products continues to increase exponentially.
Today, we are once again facing the same threats to American jobs that we faced nearly a year ago. It’s unimaginable to me that we would be willing to make an unforced error in our commitment to protecting our planet. We shouldn’t be fighting the Biden Administration’s work to preserve the trade balance. We simply can’t afford to make a mistake that could halt solar deployment and cost us so many American jobs.
With current U.S. solar manufacturing, we are only able to meet one-third of domestic demand. One-third! It’s imperative that we protect this industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it produces.
If the pause on solar tariffs were to end, the consequences would be devastating. Let’s take a minute to walk through what Americans would face.
First, 30,000 good-paying jobs would be eliminated this year. That’s 30,000 Americans who could face unemployment. Of that 30,000, 4,000 are manufacturing jobs stemming from a $4.2 billion domestic investment in the solar industry from legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Second, CO2 emissions would increase by 42 million metric tons. That’s about the same amount of emissions generated by the electricity use of 8 million homes in a year. This would undermine our progress on solar deployment and starve the solar market of the critical panels and cells that cannot be obtained in the U.S. at this time.
Third, our efforts to strengthen the supply chain by developing our own manufacturing would be severely harmed. The retroactive solar tariffs on materials that are currently not available in the U.S. would directly undercut OUR OWN efforts and send the supply chain into a downward spiral.
Fourth, roughly 14% of the industry’s anticipated projects would be cancelled, significantly setting back our transition to a green energy economy.
I’ll say it again. We cannot afford to let this happen.
We need to do everything in our power to lift up innovators in the solar industry, to boldly cut emissions from our power sector and to attack this climate crisis head on, all while continuing to create good paying jobs. Heaven forbid that future generations look back and see our own hand — our very own hand — forced this error.
I want to thank Senator Rosen for her leadership on this issue and I urge our colleagues to vote NO on this resolution – for the good of our country, for the good of our planet, and for the good of the people who inhabit our planet, and the generations to come. Thank you, and I yield the remainder of my time.