May, 17th 2012

New Protectionism #FAIL

– Liz Mair

So, longtime readers of this blog/Twitter followers of mine will know that I'm a little bit crunchy and green compared to your average Republican. I'm pretty rabid about recycling. I drive a clean diesel car that gets 50 mpg on road trips. I buy a lot of organic. I buy our bath and many of our personal hygiene products at the Body Shop because I worry about animal testing. I like taking the DC metro and Amtrak, instead of driving or flying, respectively (well, except for when there are massive delays).

But I am also a rabid free-trader, having grown up in a state that is very dependent on overseas trade, especially with Asia, and being a believer that free trade enables Americans to have access to widely marketed goods that are cheaper than they otherwise would be, and promotes investment that ultimately raises standards of living elsewhere (which has a whole range of knock-on benefits I won't even begin to get into here; you can read about them on your own time).

So, consider me someone who's not particularly impressed on two counts when I read this in today's Politico Morning Tech:

NEW TARIFFS ON SOLAR TECH -- The Commerce Department is set to unveil new tariffs on solar technology imported from China this afternoon in a case that has the industry on tenterhooks. The anti-dumping duties will be the second Commerce has imposed on solar tech from China; the first tariffs, countervailing duties announced in March, were lower than expected and eased tensions slightly between the U.S. and Chinese industries. While domestic manufacturers are hoping the tariffs will help their panels compete with cheaper Chinese tech, solar developers and installers - the majority of U.S. solar jobs - fear increased prices will hurt the solar industry overall.


So, the Obama administration has recently been trying to cultivate a more pro-free-trade image with Obama signing into law free trade deals and such.

And God knows they've been promoting the heck out of green energy and urging us all (and our utilities) to use it more-- which, you know, kind of depends on the affordability of it since installing solar panels isn't an investment like buying a new fridge for most people or businesses (both in terms of the fridge being perceived as being cheaper, and because people think more about the freshness of their milk than they do saving the environment, as a general rule).

So what do they do? Institute new tariffs that will discourage purchase and installation of a key green technology that the administration supposedly wants people to use.

#FAIL. [intro]


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