Remember Solyndra, nice little solar energy company that President Obama arranged loans for, and which subsequently went bankrupt? Solyndra was done in by cheap Chinese solar panels which hit the market before Solyndra could draw breath.
Solyndra and solar companies were only half the renewable energy story. The Chinese undercut American companies on wind turbines as well. Chinese turbines hit $222 million in sales last year, according to the Commerce Department. Vermont’s wind energy company, NRG, is laying off workers.
The Commerce Department has decided that the Chinese were receiving unfair government subsidies for manufacturing those wind turbines (well, duh!) and has ruled that the Chinese must now pay a 26% import duty instead of the 13.7% they were paying. This will raise the price of the Chinese turbines by $12.30 per hundred dollars. The Commerce department also increased the duties on Chinese solar panels to 31%. These are two cases aimed at cutting into unfair Chinese export practices. There will be another case decided soon wherein American manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels have accused the Chinese of dumping their products on the American market at prices below the cost of manufacture.
For too long, our government has not fought back against China’s trade and monetary practices. The Obama administration has figured out that the rationale that was used before, that we owe China too much money to get nasty with them, just doesn’t fly. China needs us even more than we need them. They may hold a great deal of our debt, but we are their biggest customer.
Somewhere along the way, the right wing got the idea that the United States couldn’t raise tariffs, that only the World Trade Organization regulated tariffs and were part of the whole New World Order conspiracy. The Commerce Department put the lie to that one, but don’t expect anyone in the right wing media to spread the news.