Wild card: Trade hawk Steve Bannon's exit comes ahead of a huge decision on solar trade policy that could be before the White House soon.
Quick context: Two struggling solar panel manufacturers have petitioned for steep penalties on imported solar equipment. The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide next month whether it agrees that imports are causing injury, and if they make such a finding (and many expect they will), the ITC will recommend remedies to the White House this fall.
State of play: Your Generate host touched base over the weekend with a number of people tracking the case. A couple thought Bannon's ouster could slightly bolster the wide industry coalition that's opposing the tariffs, others predicted little impact.
- One renewables expert tells Axios: "I mean, at least in theory, Bannon's departure should mean that the White House might become more 'globalist' (or at least less 'anti-globalist'). But the rhetoric from Trump himself on White House has hardly been consistent from the campaign through to the White House. So ultimately, reading the tea leaves here remains very difficult."
- "I doubt that Bannon's ouster is going to make an enormous difference one way or another," said R Street Institute president Eli Lehrer. "President Trump has few core beliefs but opposition to free trade is one of them." The R Street Institute is part of the coalition that opposes the tariffs.
- "No way to know, Trump is unpredictable," said solar entrepreneur Jigar Shah, who also opposes the petition.
Why it matters: Petitioners Suniva and SolarWorld say the import penalties are needed to protect the struggling domestic solar panel manufacturing sector and its workers.
But a far broader group of business interests — including the solar industry's biggest trade group — is opposing the petition, arguing that the import penalties would wreak havoc on solar energy project economics, dealing a major blow to the sector's growth and killing jobs.