Oct 5, 2017

Solar tariff foes take case to White House

President Trump views the solar eclipse in August. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Solar industry officials took their case against steep new import penalties on solar panel equipment to the White House yesterday.

Why it matters: The trip, organized via the Solar Energy Industries Association, signals how opponents of new tariffs are pushing to make headway with Trump aides even as the U.S. International Trade Commission is still weighing its upcoming recommendations to the White House.

What happened: SEIA didn't specify exactly who they met with, though Politico reported yesterday that SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper told reporters ahead of the trip that it would include White House aides, as well as staff from DOE, the U.S. Trade Representative's office, and other agencies.

On the industry side, officials from SunPower, DuPont, RBI Solar and a few other companies attended. They're fighting the bid by two financially distressed panel makers — Suniva and SolarWorld — for major new tariffs and other restrictions.

What they're saying: Hopper, in a statement to Axios, called the meetings very productive.

  • "[O]ur group brought their unique perspective as American solar manufacturers to the key White House and department officials who will be supporting the decision on the trade case. Our companies drove home the points that we represent the vast majority of Americans working in solar manufacturing and that any tariffs will have a detrimental effect on these companies' ability to maintain their employees, let alone add more," she said.

While she didn't get into the details of the meetings, SEIA has recommended several policies, such as Commerce Department-led technical assistance to manufacturers, in lieu of steep new tariffs that would cause the price of new solar projects to rise sharply.

Yes, but: Their effort to ward off new tariffs and other import restrictions could be facing a steep uphill climb at a time when the White House has signaled it favor a tough posture on trade in general.

  • "If I had to bet, based on what the president has signaled he's interested in doing in terms of his rhetoric in other cases, that would seem to be the most likely outcome," Chad Brown, a trade expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Axios in an interview yesterday.

A note yesterday from ClearView Energy Partners makes a similar point. "We continue to believe President Trump may use this proceeding — which targets a relatively narrow energy subsector — as a test case for his tough-on-trade America First agenda," they said.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health