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'Reckless': Trump Deals Blow to Renewable Transition With Solar Panel Tariff

"Tens of thousands of jobs in the solar sector could be stamped out, and it could hurt momentum at a time when we need to massively ramp up clean energy to reduce carbon emissions."

solar panel install

SolarCraft workers install solar panels on the roof of a home on February 26, 2015 in San Rafael, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dealing a serious blow to the U.S. solar industry and despite protests from experts and a national trade group, President Donald Trump has approved a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panel materials.

"With Americans in Puerto Rico and Houston still struggling to recover from climate disasters, Trump should be supporting renewable energy rather than making it more costly."
—Howard Crystal, CBD
Responding to recommendations from the U.S. International Trade Commission, which was lobbied by two foreign-owned U.S.-based companies that argued they couldn't compete with cheap materials from Asia, Trump on Monday authorized (pdf) a 30 percent tariff on solar cells and modules that will drop by 5 percent annually over the next four years.

U.S. solar companies, environmentalists, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) decried the "reckless decision" that they warned, in the government's effort to "keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat," will not only further endanger the planet but also "create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs."

"President Trump says his intention is to save jobs, but the specifics show this decision is a job killer," said John Rogers, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Tens of thousands of jobs in the solar sector could be stamped out, and it could hurt momentum at a time when we need to massively ramp up clean energy to reduce carbon emissions."

"If Trump really wants to put America first, he should reduce our reliance on polluting energy sources that fuel climate change," declared Howard Crystal, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). "With Americans in Puerto Rico and Houston still struggling to recover from climate disasters, Trump should be supporting renewable energy rather than making it more costly."

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