Ahead of votes on H.J.Res 39 and S.J. Res 15, the groups listed below sent the following letter to members of both the House and Senate:
April 17, 2023
Dear Member of Congress,
The undersigned groups write to express our opposition to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions of disapproval (H.J.Res 39 and S.J. Res 15) aimed at reversing President Biden’s temporary suspension of tariffs on certain solar cells and panels from manufacturers in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Passage of these resolutions could destabilize solar supply chains, harm ongoing deployment of large scale solar projects, threaten high-quality solar construction jobs, and impede our nation’s decarbonization goals.
Proclamation 10414, issued by President Biden in June 2022, gave the U.S. Department of Commerce authority to issue regulations suspending new solar tariffs until June 2024 while the department proceeded with its investigation into claims that facilities in the Southeastern Asian countries were circumventing existing tariffs on Chinese solar companies. The Commerce Department subsequently issued rules implementing the delay, and H.J. Res 39 and S.J. Res 15 would nullify that rulemaking.
Our organizations support both a shift to cleaner and fairer supply chains for clean energy, as well as the rapid deployment of clean energy in order to meet the urgency of the climate crisis. Thanks in part to the expansive investments in clean energy manufacturing and high quality job standards included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), we are now well positioned to achieve both of these goals. The administration’s strong implementation of the IRA’s domestic content provisions is a critical piece to further drive manufacturing buildout in the U.S. However, passage of these CRA resolutions would undermine the ability of the U.S. solar industry to succeed in accelerating the shift to more clean energy on the power grid.
The President’s decision to pause tariffs for two years is providing U.S. businesses with much-needed certainty after several months of project cancellations and delays last year due to the Commerce Department’s investigation, which caused solar deployment to decline by 30 percent – 10 gigawatts below expectations.
We have already seen more than $13 billion in domestic solar manufacturing announcements since the passage of the IRA. While more buildout is needed, this demonstrates that domestic investment is headed in the right direction. Additional panel shortages, as we saw during the Commerce Department investigation, would once again debilitate U.S. utility-scale solar projects and jobs. And if a CRA resolution rolls back the President’s two-year tariff pause, then debilitating shortages and lost investment capital could begin this year.
Beyond the harm to solar deployments across the U.S., there is the larger issue of the CRA being the wrong tool for Congressional oversight. Congress has always had the power to create, modify or eliminate rules using the regular legislative process. The CRA provides a more extreme path by repealing a rule in its entirety and preventing an agency from issuing a new rule that is “substantially the same,” an undefined phrase that can essentially freeze the regulatory process.
In this instance, while the Commerce Department investigation of tariff circumvention was being conducted, the administration sought to provide enough lead time for domestic solar panel manufacturing and supply chains to rapidly expand operations to meet demand, bring certainty on the prices of imported panels to the solar companies deploying clean energy, and job stability for those workers installing panels. Passing these resolutions could prevent future administrations from being able to find appropriate solutions to other tariffs and trade challenges.
For these reasons, the undersigned organizations urge you to vote NO on H. J. Res 39 and S.J. Res 15. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for considering our views.
League of Conservation Voters
Natural Resources Defense Council
Climate Action Campaign
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Clean Energy for America
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Environmental Defense Fund
Union of Concerned Scientists