Biden invokes Defense Production Act to spur solar panel, clean energy production

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President Biden on Monday invoked the Defense Production Act in an effort to spur the manufacturing of solar panels and other clean energy equipment, using the wartime-era tool intended for the national defense to advance his clean energy agenda. 

The president is using the DPA to attempt to boost the production of things like insulation, heat pumps, transformers and electric power grid components. He’s also suspending tariffs on solar panels for two years from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — but not China. These moves come as energy prices have even outpaced rapid inflation — and after the Department of Commerce announced in March it is investigating whether imports of solar panels assembled in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are circumventing rules that limit imports from China.

The Biden administration argued that climate is interwoven with national security. 

“Reducing America’s dependence on gas and oil is critical to U.S. national security,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in a statement. “In conflict, fossil fuel supply lines are especially vulnerable. The actions President Biden announced today will help strengthen our supply chains and ensure that the United States is a leader in producing the energy technologies that are essential to our future success. They will also help accelerate DoD’s transition toward clean energy technologies that can help strengthen military capability while creating good jobs for American workers.”

The Department of Energy says exercising the DPA authority will let the federal government invest in companies with the capacity for producing clean energy and installing clean energy capabilities for consumers. 

Some Democrats praised the president’s moves, including Sen. Ed Markey, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety.

“President Biden’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act to bolster the clean energy industry will make our country safer and more resilient for years to come,” Markey said. “By investing in the clean energy that will power our nation’s future – from solar panels to heat pumps to clean energy technologies – the President is answering our call for immediate action to lower energy prices, fortify our independence from a corrupt global oil market, boost American manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, deliver a healthier environment, and build a more resilient economy. I will continue to fight alongside climate warriors from across the country and work with my colleagues in Congress to deliver the comprehensive climate justice and clean energy action we need to meet the magnitude of the climate crisis head-on.”

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