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on Monday, 5 June 2023 in Environmental Pulse: Vanessa A. Silke, Editor

Congress failed to override President Biden’s veto of legislation that would have resumed tariffs on solar panels imported from Southeast Asia.

In only the third veto of his presidency, President Joe Biden recently blocked legislation that would have resumed import tariffs for solar panels produced in Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand.  As we described in this article, the tariffs stemmed from a March 2021 U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) investigation.  President Biden used an executive order last summer to halt the tariffs for two years.

While the tariff exemption was set to expire in June of 2024, Congress voted to end the waiver earlier in support of domestic manufacturers who say they can’t compete with the cheaper panels made overseas.  Congress approved a bill to repeal the exemption sooner.  The House voted 221-202 on April 28 to repeal the rule, and the Senate ratified 56-41 several days later.

On May 16, President Biden vetoed the measure, however, calling the tariff freeze necessary to achieve the renewable energy goals under the Inflation Reduction Act. Clean-energy trade groups approve President Biden’s decision to veto.  Their members rely upon the low-cost imports to keep their expenses reasonable.  The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association reported the proposed legislation could have eliminated some 30,000 jobs in the solar industry.

A split Congress voted 214 in favor and 205 against a resolution to overturn the veto, far from the required two-thirds vote in the House and Senate.  It thus appears the President’s veto will stand for the time being, and the waiver on solar import tariffs can continue until next summer.

Attorneys at Baird Holm will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as the situation evolves.  Please contact us with your questions and needs in renewable-energy development.

Vanessa A. Silke
Hannes D. Zetzsche
Matt A. Robinson, Summer Associate 

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