Rolling Stone Interviews President Obama, DOI Tariff Decision on Chinese Solar Slated for May 17

The Rolling Stone Magazine featured an interview with President Obama in their May issue.  During the interview, President Obama made several references to energy and climate issues.  He pointed out that“getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency” was the “centerpiece” of the House Republicans’ economic development agenda,   The President also emphasized the steps the Administration has taken to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “within the constraints of this Congress,” but said “we have a lot more work to do.”  He vowed that over the next six months “I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to deal with climate change in a serious way.”   When quizzed about the Keystone XL pipeline, the President stated, "The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem".  He went on to say, "Within the constraints of this Congress, we've tried to do a whole range of things, administratively, that are making a difference – doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars is going to take a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere. We're going to continue to push on energy efficiency, and renewable energy standards, and the promotion of green energy. But there is no doubt that we have a lot more work to do."

On May 17, the Commerce Department will announce a determination on a second round of tariffs on Chinese-made silicon-based photovoltaic cells.  The Commerce Department's May 17 ruling, in response to allegations of dumping by the U.S. unit of a German solar panel maker, Oregon based Solarworld , could fundamentally alter the solar landscape in the United States. Dumping occurs when a firm or industry sells its products below cost to capture the market. If more tariffs are applied, they probably will be much higher than the relatively light first round announced in March, which ran from 2.6 percent to 4.7 percent.

Our Clean Energy Initiative had a panel on the tariff issue, Chinese Tariffs: Smart Policy or Proctionism? with Lewis Leibowitx, of Hogan Lovells,  Elizabeth Drake of Stewart and Stewart and William Morin of Applied Materials.  Some believe that applying more tariffs might may kill jobs because the vast majority of positions in the sector aren't on the assembly line. Instead, up to of 70 percent of U.S. solar employment is in installation, sales, and distribution, and firms that hire those workers argue that solar cells must get significantly cheaper to stay competitive with other energy sources.  According to our friend, John Smirnow, VP of Trade at Solar Energy Industries Association, "Installation is where all the jobs are.There are 5,600 firms in the healthy, vibrant, and growing solar-services sector."  Pro tariff advocates say protecting a solar manufacturing base is crucial to the nation's energy security.