President Trump’s Tariffs Put Massachusetts Jobs, Solar Industry at Risk

Published Jan 23, 2018

Statement by John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst Union of Concerned Scientists 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (January 23, 2018)—President Donald Trump yesterday imposed tariffs on imported solar panel materials that are key to America’s booming solar industry. These duties, intended as barriers to benefit U.S. solar panel manufacturers, will hurt America’s renewable energy market. 

Despite being the sixth smallest state, Massachusetts ranks sixth nationally in the amount of solar energy produced in 2016. With nearly 15,000 workers in the solar industry Massachusetts has the second highest total solar jobs in the United States. The solid growth of the industry has been making important contributions to the state’s renewable energy and carbon reduction goals, strengthening the economy and creating jobs.  

Statement by John Rogers, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists: 

“There’s widespread opposition to solar tariffs across the political and economic spectrum. This issue has united conservatives and liberals unlike anything else I’ve seen during Mr. Trump’s presidency.  Sadly, his decision burdens states with greater economic costs and attempts to derail clean energy progress. 

“President Trump says his intention is to save jobs, but the specifics show this decision is a job killer. The first year of tariffs is high enough to blunt the growth of solar energy in the U.S. and hurt domestic solar jobs, but the package is not nearly enough to give U.S. solar panel manufacturers the ill-conceived walls of protectionism they were looking for. 

“Tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. solar sector could be stamped out, and it could hurt momentum at a time when we need to massively ramp up clean energy to reduce carbon emissions. It’s clear this administration has no interest in reducing U.S. emissions. The states are going to have to pick up the slack by strengthening their own policies. 

“For Massachusetts, the tariffs mean the legislature needs to redouble its commitment to solar energy and bridge the gaps in affordability and growth that yesterday’s decision brings on. That means removing net metering caps—the artificial, self-imposed limits on solar the state’s utilities will connect—and making sure solar policies are fair by giving low-income households and others full credit for shared or community solar systems. 

“This is a chance for our elected representatives on Beacon Hill to respond to President Trump with a clear statement about the value of clean energy that is readily apparent in Massachusetts, even if it isn't to him.”