Fate of U.S. Solar Industry in Trump's Hands After ITC Ruling
The fate of the U.S. solar industry now lies in President Trump's hands after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled Friday that two bankrupt solar companies, Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld, were harmed economically by cheap imports of panels and cells.
According to POLITICO, Trump is likely to impose tariffs on foreign solar panels to advance his "America First" agenda, to help revive the ailing coal sector and to penalize Chinese solar manufacturers.
The domestic solar industry has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to imported panels mostly from China and other parts of Asia. Consequently, the solar industry warns that a tariff could threaten tens of thousands of U.S. jobs (solar accounted for 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016), drive up prices and cause the number of system installations to plummet.
"Analysts say Suniva's remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018," Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association said.
"Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments," Hopper said about Suniva, whose majority owner is in China, and SolarWorld Americas, a subsidiary of Germany's SolarWorld.
A bipartisan group of governors from Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts and North Carolina also spoke against the levy.
"The requested tariff could inflict a devastating blow on our states' solar industries and lead to unprecedented job loss, at steep cost to our states' economies," they wrote in a letter.
"At a time when our citizens are demanding more clean energy, the tariff could cause America to lose out on 47 gigawatts of solar installations, representing billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in our states."
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, issued a similar statement.
"This decision gives President Trump and his fossil fuel allies a blank check to crush the solar revolution that we are experiencing in the United States," he said. "The surge in wind and solar deployment that is happening across the United States is the greatest force for blue-collar job creation in a generation. But with the solar tax credits expiring in four years, we must do everything we can to support the growth of solar investments and installations and the tens of thousands of jobs that come with them. President Trump should not use this decision as an excuse to kill the solar industry under the guise of domestic manufacturing."
Furthermore, Trump's decision could cost affect the American taxpayer, as Bloomberg reported:
"The U.S. offers incentives to encourage people to use clean energy, paying owners of solar-power systems a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the total installation costs. More expensive panels leads to higher costs, and that means taxpayers could be on the hook for about $1.23 billion more, according to an estimate from Cowen & Co. analyst Jeffrey Osborne."
Even the conservative Heritage Foundation is against solar tariffs.
"The tariffs requested by Suniva and SolarWorld will make solar products and services in America more expensive and less competitive by removing inexpensive, often imported choices from other solar companies and their customers," Heritage trade policy analyst Katie Tubb wrote.
Trump, who has vowed to protect U.S. manufacturers from "unfair" imports, has not given a firm decision on the matter following the ITC's 4-0 vote last week.
"The President will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States," White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said in a statement. "The U.S. solar manufacturing sector contributes to our energy security and economic prosperity."
Suniva praised the ITC's vote and called on the president to implement a tariff that "prevents China and its proxies from owning the sun."
The ITC will now develop a course of action to recommend to Trump by Nov. 13.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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