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Trump Puts 30% Tariff on Solar Imports (plus Tweets)

Today’s homily was going to be about the bad decision by Donald Trump and the Republicans to put a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. I’m running out of time to write what I think here, so instead I’m just going to copy in the text of a series of tweets by Eugene Wilkie who owns Now! Solar, a solar panel installing company in the Washington area (Richland/Kennewick/Pasco).

I haven’t confirmed the accuracy of his tweets, or edited them in any way. There are two which contain graphs, so I’ve used the original tweets. You can see all the original tweets here.

Here goes.

As a solar company, we are devastated to learn Trump has imposed a 30% tariff on solar panels virtually killing the solar industry. Solar employs more people than coal and oil combined. today’s decision will cause the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year.

In the last decade, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68%. Nearly 260,000 Americans work in solar – more than double the number in 2012 – at more than 9,000 companies in every U.S. state.

The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% since 2010, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide

In 2016, Solar installed 39% of all new electric generating capacity, topping all other technologies for the first time. Solar’s increasing competitiveness against other technologies has allowed it to quickly increase its share of total U.S. electrical generation

The solar industry employs the kind of “forgotten” Americans whom Trump champions: small contractors who employ blue-collar workers earning a median of $26 an hour; one in 10 are veterans.

On one side are manufacturers SolarWorld, a U.S. subsidiary of a German company, and Georgia-based Suniva, majority-owned by a Hong Kong firm. Both complained to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that cheap imports, mostly from China, were killing them.

They filed their ITC complaint under a seldom-used statute in which the criteria is nearly impossible to refute. Commissioners needed only to find that large numbers of an imported product were undercutting a U.S. manufacturer.

This industry is America’s fastest-growing energy business, expanding by 20% each of the past four years and now employing nearly 374,000 workers.

Solar companies created 1 in 50 new jobs in the U.S. in 2016,

Analysts say will send the price of solar panels surging and halt hiring in an industry that has grown 17 times faster than the U.S. economy.

It will 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,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s chief executive, said in a scathing press release.

tRrump has railed against renewable energy and dismissed climate change as a hoax, had significant discretion over today’s decision proving that he is not putting America first and ultimately will put thousands out of work.

Projected it will cost the industry 88,000 jobs nationwide, about 34 percent of the 260,000 Americans employed in solar in 2017, according to calculations released last June by SEIA. At risk would be 6,300 jobs in Texas, 4,700 in North Carolina “and a whopping 7,000 in SC

Last year, Trump proposed a 2018 budget that slashed funding for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 71.9 percent.

The administration pushed a proposal designed by coal baron and Trump ally Bob Murray to bail out coal and nuclear power plants with a plan that would add $10.8 billion in ratepayer costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency moved to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s only major federal program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incentivize utility-scale clean energy investments.

The White House also illegally withheld $91 million in funding to ARPA-E, an experimental energy research program responsible for “holy grail” breakthroughs in battery storage technology.

#TrumpsWarOnSolar is a reflection of his deep hatred of anything @BarackObama stood for.

As an #Solar industry veteran for over 25 years, I have contended that if they stripped the incentives from fossil fuel and renewables we would beat them on pricing and the flip to renewables would be swift.

Republicans keep crowing about how we need to quit subsidizing and paying out to prop up industries but what they refuse to talk about is the number of incentives fossil fuel receives.

Energy analysts have made the point again and again that fossil fuels, not renewable energy, most benefit from supportive public policy

The profits of US fossil fuels are built on a foundation of government assistance.

US fossil fuel production is subsidized to the tune of $20 billion annually Researchers at Oil Change International (OCI) set out to quantify the level of US fossil fuel subsidies, OCI is only counting direct production subsidies. As they acknowledge, that leaves out a great deal

OCI’s analysis leaves out indirect subsidies — things like the money the US military spends to protect oil shipping routes, or the unpaid costs of health and climate impacts from burning fossil fuels.

These indirect subsidies reach to the hundreds of billions, dwarfing direct subsidies — the IMF says that, globally speaking, they amount to $5.3 trillion a year.

OCI acknowledges that its estimates of state-level subsidies are probably low, since many states don’t report the costs of tax expenditures (i.e., tax breaks and credits to industry), so data is difficult to come by.

Adding everything up: $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare.

Notice that asterisk by remediation, which refers to the cost of cleaning up environmental messes and abandoned infrastructure left behind by fossil fuels. Shady insurance, bonding, and liability-cap policies mean that taxpayers are probably on the hook for lots more than this.

Intangible drilling oil & gas deduction ($2.3 billion)
Excess of percentage over cost depletion ($1.5 billion)
Master Limited Partnerships tax exemption ($1.6 billion)
Last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting ($1.7 billion)

(Heather here again.) There was some push-back, and other discussion. Here’s a (big) selection of the tweets in response:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Me again.) Okay, that was really long, so there won’t be too many more tweets.

 

Political Tweets

Thank goodness there’s still a free media in the US. It’s chilling how many USians are prepared to ignore the influence of the Kremlin and its values on the White House because they want a Republican government.
(Via Ann German.)

 

It absolutely blows me away that this sort of thing is allowed in a country that considers itself the “Greatest Democracy in the World”. It’s a disgrace. And now that the law is finally doing something about it, the GOP is going to appeal the ruling! I don’t know the grounds of their appeal. It can’t possibly be that this isn’t gerrymandering, so it must be that gerrymandering is okay! GOP motto: “If you can’t win by playing fair, play dirty.”
(Via Ann German.)

 

Interesting analysis of Donald Trump’s tweets for the year.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Excellent.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Conspiracy Theory Tweets

I had to create a new section for these tweets as, like Ann German who sent them to me, and everyone else (sensible) who’s seen it, I can’t quite believe what I’m reading. This is not normal politics!

 

 

 

Absolutely disgraceful behaviour by the White House.
(Via Ann German.)

History Tweets

Wow! The wreck of the Clothilde, the last slave ship to import slaves to the US from Africa, may have been found. The tale is a disgraceful one. Though slavery was still legal in the US in 1860, importing new slaves had been illegal for decades. One man bet he could get slaves into the country past authorities. He took 110 people from what’s now Benin, and got them into the US. When slavery itself was outlawed 5 years later, the government would not pay their passage back to Africa, so they established Africatown. The man who imported the slaves arranged for the ship to be burnt as part of the process of hiding his crime.
(Via Ann German, video at link.)

 

How sick is this? It literally makes me feel ill. There was, and still is, a lot of pretty disgusting stuff in Australia in relation to the Aborigines. (I didn’t retweet this one. It’s just here for your edification.)

 

Gun Safety Tweets

No comment.

Space Tweets

Dealing with space junk when you live on the international space station …

 

Marine Tweets

I’m saying it again: Octopuses are cool!

 

Creepy Crawlie Tweets

This one looks like an invader from another planet that wants to be our overlord. It will eat us if we don’t obey!

 

These ones will be nicer overlords, but overlords all the same.

 

Gorgeous!

Other Animals Tweets

How cute is this?!

 

How to make your garden hedgehog friendly.

 

A baby only a mother could think was beautiful, but he’s definitely lovable!

 

New species!
(Via Ann German.)

 

Bird Tweets

Well, it’s Tuesday in  New Zealand, but I love it anyway! (Well it was Tuesday when I started this post. It’s Wednesday now!)

 

Did it forget how to fly?

 

Dog Tweets

Awwww …

 

Cat Tweets

Oh wow!!! Three serval kittens!!! Absolutely gorgeous!!!

 

Lovely.

How did that happen?!


 

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20 Responses to “Trump Puts 30% Tariff on Solar Imports (plus Tweets)”

  1. ThyroidPlanet says:

    There’s a company named Tesla.

    It makes solar panels, batteries, and stuff.

    Not sure if that’s relevant for this discussion.

    • nicky says:

      Tesla makes the coolest solar panels looking like genuine roof tiles, only much, like in MUCH, stronger, they have Tuscan, Slate, Smooth and Textured.
      https://www.tesla.com/solarroof
      I think that Tesla, although Elon Musk is or was a South African, is an American company. They are world leaders in Solar: electric cars, the Powerwall batteries and solar panels. As far as I know they are not into CSP, but I might be mistaken.
      Elon Musk presenting the Powerwall:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxyWafzomqs
      As an illustration of how Solar is a real option, a nice graph:
      https://28oa9i1t08037ue3m1l0i861-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Global_energy_potential_perez_2009_en.svg_.png
      Note that these are spheres, not discs. If they were discs the solar would not fit on your screen if you would take ‘oil’ as the standard disc. Note also that the left side presents annual while the right side presents total reserves.

      • nicky says:

        I noted that occasionally Musk’s presentation is overridden by some other, if you push the ‘back’ button you will go back to his original, kinda ‘historical’, presentation.

    • Mark R. says:

      Yes, but now Tesla’s solar panels are going to cost 30% more, which they’ll need to pass on to the consumer; this increase (as the tweets explain above) will disallow banks from giving loans to home owners because to grant a loan, the bank needs a 5 year ROI. This increase won’t allow a 5-year ROI, so consumers can’t afford the panels (unless they’re wealthy). You can’t manufacture solar cells here (the most expensive part of a solar panel) as the US owns no patents; so there is no way to get around this, not even for Tesla. We can wait 5 years until the tariff expires, or a new POTUS (who would have to be a Democrat) can rescind tRump’s executive order quicker (in 3 years).

  2. nicky says:

    I think these ‘Servals’ are ‘Savanna cats’ , a cross between Servals and domestic cats. There is a ‘tulip-bulb’-like craze about them: they go from 1000 to 20.000 US$! (note, the 1000 US$ was a few weeks ago, I doubt you’ll find any that ‘cheap’ now)
    Deplorable as this ‘speculative investment’ is, they still rate as extremely beautiful cats with nicky.

  3. Mark R. says:

    The 30% tariff will impact solar developers the most…the developers who build massive solar farms to replace coal/nuclear/natural gas/petroleum power plants. This is also the area that best combats carbon pollution. The polluters with Republican backing win again. The short-sighted, money-is-god folks are in control of the US government now, so destructive (and stupid) policies like this will continue. China, Germany, Japan and other world leaders are thinking 30 years ahead when it comes to future energy production. Trump and his cronies are clinging to 19th and 20th century energy “solutions”. Add it to the list of dipshit decisions so ubiquitous in this plutocratic administration. It sucks living in a country that was once a leader in so many areas abdicate leadership to the rest of the world.

    Good news about the PA gerrymandering being undone. This was overturned citing Pennsylvania state law, not federal law, so the feds can’t take up the case. Josh Shapiro(D) is the state attorney general, so the appeal won’t go anywhere. It’s good that this will take effect before 11/18…another decisive blow against the Republican cheat-machine.

    The cockatiel looks just like one I had as a teenager. “Skippy” was a lovable yet destructive bird. 🙂

    • nicky says:

      I’m not clear about that. I gathered the tariff applied to PV panels and components. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), those ‘massive solar farms’, does not use PV cells . They use heliostats, fresnel collectors or parabolic mirrors. How does a PV-cell tax have import (no pun meant) on that? What am I missing?
      (Note I find this PV tariff at least asinine, if not criminal)

    • nicky says:

      At any rate, I do not think these ‘industrial’ wind farms are the “forgotten” Americans whom Trump pretends to champion, that Eugene Wilkie is referring to.

      The more I think about this tariff, the more insane it appears to me.
      – The US has some catching up to do, imposing tariffs does nothing to advance that. Some incentives might help, in order to become more competitive, but tariffs on imports never work.
      – Enormous job losses , especially in small enterprises (as Wilkie points out), heartbreaking.
      – A huge setback for the fight against Global Warming, fossil fuels need to be phased out ASAP, and solar is the most, if not the only, realistic alternative.
      – Connected, FF’s will have to be phased out anyway, if not sooner, then later. The US is behind, despite Tesla, and will fall behind even further (cf the first point) [MABA-caps: Make America Backward Again, maybe an idea for a bold young entrepreneur?]
      – It is huge set-back in the fight against Islamic Fundamentalism (including Islamic terrorism). The spread of Fundamentalist Islam is -to a great extent- financed by our ‘petro-dollars’.
      In connection with the latter point, it is somewhat ironic that Mr Trump is actually facilitating Islamic fundamentalism (and connected terrorism).
      But in connection with Islamic fundamentalism we are used to irony, ne?

  4. nicky says:

    These ‘Aboriginal captives’, I can’t help seeing them more as ‘ripped’ than malnourished.
    But indeed, the ‘West’ has a lot of butter on it’s head in the treatment of conquered people.
    The only excuse, admittedly a feeble one, is that it is not worse than any conquering tribe has always done in human history (enslavement, rape, murder. genocide).

    • There is no excuse. It is an explanation.

      The pic is very recent. I think of the Five Eyes group (NZ Aus GB Canada USA) as being very similar culturally these days, though the US is a bit of an outlier on guns, health, and religion. This was illegal even in the US at the time with its recent history of slavery and rampant racism in the South.

      Like parts of the US, Australia still has a significant problem with racism. It’s a problem everywhere of course. Humanity still hasn’t evolved to a place where racism is gone. We still have some problematic instincts re out-groups. But some places are worse than others.

      • nicky says:

        Yes, you are right, it is not an excuse, but it is not really an explanation either, it hints at an explanation, which is probably along the lines of in-group/out-group bias.
        In fact, it is cause for optimism that that photo appears revolting to most of us nowadays (I guess). Maybe -well I’m sure he is- Pinker was right in his “Better Angels of Our Nature”.
        With all the hiccups, Mr Trump (including Mr Pruitt, Mr McConnell, Mr Kobach, Ms DeVos, etc.) being a small one (I hope) and Islamic Fundamentalism a bigger one (I fear), humankind is improving.

      • nicky says:

        Re “Five Eyes” (never heard about it before, but I get it is an intelligence sharing agreement), I think that eg. NZ or Canada and, say, Denmark or Holland, are very much more culturally comparable to each other from many pov’s than any of them to the US.

        • I agree that the kind of society we and Canada have ended up with, especially in regard to international league tables, is very similar to Denmark and Holland. Peaceful, tolerant, low corruption levels etc. But in other ways I think we’re quite different.

          I’m mainly thinking of four of us, and GB gets in on the act because that’s the origin of the dominant culture/history for us because at the moment a majority of us are of British descent. That’s rapidly changing of course, and it will not remain like that for many more decades.

          We four are all fairly young societies that took over lands from indigenous populations. We haven’t had wars on our soil in the modern era. We don’t have uncontrolled migration, such as Europe is currently experiencing from the Middle East. We have more environmentally wasteful societies because we have big countries with relatively few people, lots of natural beauty, few worries about things like food and water, stable governments (despite the current debacle in the US).

          Anyway, that’s where my reasoning comes from. There are plenty of arguments for what you say too.

          • nicky says:

            Yes, definitely so. What NZ, Oz, Canada and the US share is that they took over land from indegenous populations. Denmark (mainly Greenland) and Holland (Indonesia, South Africa, Ceylon, Surinam and some Carribean islands) dabbled in that too, but they never took over in numbers of population, and lost or got rid of these territories.
            Note that New York used to be Nieuw Amsterdam before it was swapped with Surinam and control of the ‘spice islands’ (Moluccas). It can still be heard in names like Harlem (Haarlem) and Brooklyn (Breukelen). Some notorious names ‘Van Buuren’, ‘Rooseveldt’, ‘Vanderbilt’, ‘Stuyvesandt’, ‘Schuyler’, ‘Van Winkle ,’Timmerman’, ‘Rutgers’, ‘Block’, ‘Hoeven’, ‘Ten Eck’ and indeed ‘De Vos’ come to mind. I’m not sure how many of these were later immigration.
            Note that ‘Trump’ appears not related to the celebrated 17th Century Dutch admiral ‘Maarten Harpertzoon Tromp’. 🙂

          • Trump was originally Drumpf. That’s why many anti-Trump people use that name. They were much later immigrants – I think from Germany in the late 19th century. Trump’s grandfather. He or Trump’s father changed the family name by deed poll. There was an article about it not long after he announced his candidacy iirc.

          • nicky says:

            Trump: Friedrich Trump, the present Mr Trump’s grandfather apparently came from Kallstadt in Germany before emigrating to the US.
            There is indeed a trope that it was changed from ‘Drumpf” , but I’m not sure that that is not apocryphical. Snopes appears to confirm, but my confidence in Snopes (contrary to most other ‘fact-investigating sites’) is not really high. At any rate there is no idea about when the name-change occurred, generally a weak sign.
            All agree it was not ‘Tromp’, pace Maerten “Bestevaer” Harpertszoon.

          • I wonder if the failure to find an exact dafe etc is because the change was never done legally? I don’t know whether that was a requirement back then. Either way, if a baby’s name is registered with the surname Trump, that’s its legal name whatever the surname/s of the parents.

          • nicky says:

            My point about these Dutch names in the US, and German, Italian, Scandinavian, French, Irish, Greek, Jewish, Spanish, Slavic, etc. names, is that in the US the Anglo-Saxon descendants were a minority for many decades, if not centuries. A genetic profile would be interesting here. Even guys (and gals, of course) with British sounding names were often just ‘adaptations’, many a ‘Fisher’ was a ‘Visser” , and even Harding was reputedly of Dutch descent.
            It is not always very clear, eg. although some contend that the name ‘Polk” is Scottish, derived from ‘Pollack” the fish, most genealogists attribute it to ‘Pollack’: from Poland.
            Of course, the same is true for Canada, with it’s huge population of French descent, but much less for Oz and NZ.

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