Rosen: “President Biden, we need action today – not next week, next month, or later this summer. Hundreds of thousands of American solar workers, their families, our communities, they are counting on you.”
VIEW/DOWNLOAD VIDEO OF FULL SPEECH HERE
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) led a group of colleagues in delivering speeches on the Senate floor about the Department of Commerce’s misguided investigation into imported solar panels that is threatening hundreds of thousands of American solar jobs through increased tariffs. Rosen urged President Biden and his Administration to expedite the resolution of the investigation to protect jobs and help us achieve our climate goals. Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV), Carper (D-DE), and Bennet (D-CO) joined Senator Rosen’s effort.
Senator Rosen has been leading the fight against this investigation and the job-killing solar tariffs it could bring into effect. In March, she spearheaded a bipartisan group of a dozen senators in urging Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to carefully assess the validity of the filed petition to investigate and expand solar tariffs. Following the news that the Department of Commerce had launched an investigation based on the flawed petition, Senator Rosen pressed Secretary Raimondo about expediting this investigation at an oversight hearing and later led a bipartisan group of 21 colleagues in a letter urging the Biden Administration to expedite and bring the investigation to a swift conclusion.
Watch Senator Rosen’s full remarks here.
Below are Senator Rosen’s floor remarks as delivered:
For years, solar power has been a growing source of clean, low-cost energy and economic development in my state of Nevada, and in states across our nation…. Surely states like yours, Mr. President, in California.
But Nevada currently has the largest solar economy in the country, with the most solar jobs per capita–per capita– of any state.
Supporting solar energy creates American jobs, and these jobs are helping us transition to clean, renewable energy.
Our domestic solar industry is made up of more than 10,000 businesses, large and small, located in every single state, employing over 250,000 American workers.
But at this moment, the American solar industry is at risk. All of the progress we’ve made to transition to clean energy, and dramatically lower energy costs for American families, well it’s at risk.
Hundreds of thousands of good-paying solar jobs are at risk because of a Department of Commerce investigation into imported solar panels.
Our domestic solar industry’s success depends on a steady supply of solar panels to install. If we don’t have the panels to install, we do not have, we just don't have a domestic solar industry.
Unfortunately, solar panel manufacturers in the U.S. can only meet the needs of 15% –15% – of American solar projects.
That leaves 85% of solar projects without any access to solar panels, and this requires – requires– importing solar panels.
And let me make something very clear: I one-hundred percent support ramping up domestic solar manufacturing so that someday all of our solar panels and cells can be made in the United States.
And, I’ve introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Jerry Moran to do just that.
However, today, we simply do not have the capacity or capability to manufacture enough panels to meet demand or to support the hundreds of thousands of American workers – many in union jobs – whose livelihoods depend on access to available, affordable solar panels.
Utilities across the country, and especially in southwestern states, are shifting to renewable solar energy, and they have already hired workers, and in many cases have made multi-million-dollar investments to do so.
These are good-paying jobs, which often require special expertise to install and maintain our solar installations.
But since the Administration’s investigation was launched there have been widespread reports of project cancellations and layoffs.
It has thrown the entire solar industry into uncertainty and it’s threatening jobs, it’s setting us back on our clean energy goals, and it’s just sending, well it’s sending the wrong message to our communities as they plan for their infrastructure investments.
One industry report states that as a result of the solar freeze, over 80% of American solar companies–I want to repeat that–over 80% of American solar companies are facing cancellations, they’re facing delays on all the materials they need.
Projects are on pause, companies are facing closure, and American jobs – people’s livelihoods – they’re in jeopardy.
Earlier this month, the state of Indiana announced that, due to the investigation, it will not be able to complete its solar projects on time, and will have to keep its coal-powered plant open several years longer than initially planned. They won’t be able to complete their solar panels in time.
And in my state of Nevada, NV Energy, the state’s largest power company, has said that this investigation is causing massive disruptions to multiple Nevada solar projects that would provide low-cost power to more than 114,000 homes.
This is hurting President Biden’s own clean energy goals and is reversing our progress toward clean, renewable energy.
I’ve highlighted all of this in bipartisan letters that I’ve led to the Department of Commerce and to the White House, signed by nearly a quarter of the Senate, including many colleagues you’re going to hear from today.
If the Department of Commerce continues down the path we are on and enacts additional and retroactive solar tariffs, more than 100,000 American jobs could be lost.
Hardworking families all across the country will feel the pain of this decision that will cause energy costs–they’re going to cause energy costs to go up.
Americans are already getting squeezed at the gas pump, facing historic inflation, [and] paying more for groceries. We cannot allow home energy costs to increase as well.
The Administration can prevent this outcome and quell the panic in the solar industry by swiftly bringing the Department of Commerce’s misguided investigation to an end.
I understand and respect the Department of Commerce’s need to be thorough in investigating any claims of unfair trade practices, but as I’ve been pointing out, this petition is built upon a house of cards.
The petition for the investigation was brought by one single solar company – relying on data from researchers who say the company’s claims are wrong and that the claims in the complaint do not accurately reflect their research.
We cannot let this one single company use data in a misleading way to destroy hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
We must support and build our U.S. solar manufacturing, and I stand ready to work with my all colleagues to make that possible – but there are supply needs that need to be met right now, and we cannot simply build out domestic solar manufacturing overnight.
This is not an either/or situation. We need to do both.
American jobs are on the line, and we need a resolution.
So, I call on the Department of Commerce and the White House again to use every resource at their disposal to expedite this process and get American solar – well let’s get us back on track.
President Biden, we need action today – not next week, next month, or later this summer.
Hundreds of thousands of American solar workers, their families, our communities, they are counting on you.