U.S. Government to Petition WTO on Alleged Solar Industry Violations?

WTO Action or U.S. Action or Both?

The United Steelworkers union has filed a petition with the U.S. government alleging that China has ignored WTO rules.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, the U.S. solar industry could gain from this action.

The petition outlines numerous suspect subsidies, loans, grants, and finance instruments which implicate the Chinese government in violating specific WTO regulations.

As I wrote last week, China has been aggressive in supporting their solar industry base. However, while it remains to be seen whether there have been WTO violations, the U.S. government needs to step up now with solid long-term support for U.S. clean energy industries, whether enacting CO2 regulation, a Renewable Electric Standard, or subsidy programs with extended time horizons.

A well thought out, long term, balanced energy plan is a sorely needed replacement for the short-term, brown fuel lobbyist-driven legislation that we seem to get every few years.  The continuously revised short term energy policy keeps the solar industry from attracting financing entities and market participants who plan over decades rather than year-to-year.  The result is an unhealthy boom-and-bust cycle in the solar and other renewable energy sectors that prevents steady jobs creation, tax base increase and economic activity throughout the supporting supply chains.

The Obama administration and the Democratic Senate and House made many campaign pronouncements about supporting clean energy and energy efficiency, but so far their record of meaningful long term legislation has been minimal. While the stimulus money was helpful, it is again a short window program.

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