Vital For Colorado Opposes Solar Import Tariffs, Urges ‘Pro-Business Policies For All Energy Sources’
DENVER (Nov. 20, 2017) – In response to proposed tariffs and price floors on imported crystalline-silicone solar products, Vital for Colorado submitted the following comments to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We are writing on behalf of Vital for Colorado, a coalition of more than 70,000 local business leaders, elected officials and citizens focused on energy policy. Our organization works to maintain a pro-business climate in Colorado by promoting and defending one of our state’s most important economic engines – oil and natural gas development.
We are, however, an organization with an “all of the above” approach to energy. In fact, the origins of Vital for Colorado can be traced back to the renewable energy advocacy work of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce in the late 2000s. After successfully promoting Colorado as a destination for renewable energy investment, the members of our coalition turned their attention to attracting and retaining investment in the state’s longstanding oil and natural gas sector.
Our focus on oil and natural gas continues to this day, but we remain committed to pro-business policies for all energy sources, including renewables. For this reason, we oppose the tariffs and price floors on imported crystalline-silicone solar products requested by Suniva and SunWorld in their Section 201 petition.
As an organization representing Colorado’s business community on energy issues, we support trade and oppose trade barriers as a matter of principle. Simply put, tariffs do not help American workers or American consumers. They do more harm than good. In this case, the solar industry has warned that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost if these trade barriers are imposed, and the price of solar panels in the U.S. could double for consumers. We take these warnings seriously and hope you will too.
In recent years, Vital for Colorado has actively supported measures to increase U.S. energy exports, such as permitting reforms for liquefied natural gas exports and lifting of the 1970s-era export ban for crude oil. At a time when our nation is trying to open new markets for American-made oil and natural gas, imposing trade barriers for other energy-related products would send the wrong message and risk retaliatory action from other countries.
As a pro-business organization, we do not believe the government should pick winners and losers, and we understand there is controversy around the regulatory and tax treatment given to solar and other renewables in the U.S. energy marketplace. At the same time, we do not believe anti-trade measures such as tariffs and price floors are an appropriate response to a domestic debate over federal and state policies governing the use of renewables.
Moreover, the debate over where, when and how we get the energy we need to power the economy is not a zero-sum game. When some advocates for traditional energy sources and renewable energy sources suggest otherwise, pitting different energy sources against one another, they are wrong.
In Colorado, we have a diverse energy sector with different fuels working together to keep our economy running and thriving. For example, natural gas turbines provide essential backup power for solar panels and wind farms when weather conditions change, and you will find solar panels installed on many oil and natural gas production facilities across the state. Politics has nothing to do with it – it just makes good sense.
We hope the same “all of the above” approach to energy policy will guide your deliberations over the requested tariffs and price floors for imported solar equipment. In a growing economy, there is room for renewables and traditional energy sources to expand production at the same time – and that is especially true in an economy that embraces the benefits of international trade.
Chairman and CEO, Vital for Colorado
Treasurer, Vital for Colorado
President and CEO, South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce
(To see the comments as submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, click here.)