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In tariff reprisal, China puts U.S. energy in the crosshairs

Chinese workers prepare panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction
Workers prepare panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction on June 13, 2017, in Huainan, Anhui province, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer via Getty Images

The new tariffs on U.S. steel imports were already poised to raise costs for steel-intensive domestic oil and gas production. But China's proposed retaliatory tariffs on ethanol and propane pose the greatest threat yet to the U.S. energy trade.

The big picture: If tensions continue to escalate, Beijing might target U.S. oil and natural gas, too. While all businesses could face weaker margins if tariffs, quotas and other barriers slow global GDP growth, a trade war with China would prove especially damaging to U.S. energy producers, which have grown increasingly dependent on overseas markets.