Hearing Testimony Before the U.S. International Trade Commission
Thank you Chairman Schmidtlein, Vice Chairman Johanson, Commissioner Williamson, and Commissioner Broadbent. I represent the First Congressional District of Oregon in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today.
I am here today to express my support for a thoughtful and strong remedy that will recognize that our domestic manufacturers need to be able to compete on a level playing field, and also recognize the potential for growth in the renewable energy industry in Oregon and the United States.
As you found in your unanimous injury determination, crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells have been imported from other countries in such high quantities that the importation has been a substantial cause of serious injury to our domestic manufacturers.
The steep increase in imports has jeopardized the survival of the U.S. solar manufacturing industry. Unfair competition from overseas markets has contributed to nearly 30 U.S. solar manufacturers filing bankruptcy in the past few years. Without the ability to compete fairly, our workers and businesses continue to be threatened. And the playing field is not level if foreign solar companies artificially lower prices and flood our markets with highly-subsidized products.
I am proud to represent Solarworld and its employees in Hillsboro, Oregon. For decades, SolarWorld has been a leader in solar photovoltaic manufacturing in the United States. The company has invested more than $600 million in Oregon, and at one point employed about 1,300 Oregonians. When I toured the company soon after it opened its Hillsboro facility, I saw a tremendous amount of innovation and potential. Now SolarWorld is down to a few hundred employees. The good-paying, family-wage manufacturing jobs at SolarWorld have been growing the renewable energy industry over the years, but unfortunately, the flood of imports has caused hundreds of workers in my state to either lose their jobs or be uncertain about their future.
The jobs lost at SolarWorld were good jobs in an important industry, one in which our nation should be leading. The United States can and should be a leader in the economically and environmentally important renewable energy industry. Investing in domestic sources of renewable energy is a critical step toward addressing the harmful effects of climate change. Protecting our domestic solar manufacturing industry from unfair trade practices preserves robust U.S. leadership, which over the long term will strengthen our ability to reduce the most harmful effects of global climate change while also contributing to energy independence.
Recently our nation has been engaged in a wide-ranging and important debate about trade. Throughout that debate, there has been a principle that has broad support for good reason – we need strong enforcement of our laws to provide certainty for American workers and businesses and to grow more good jobs here at home. We have innovative entrepreneurs and workers in our country who thrive when there is fair access to the markets.
Without a thoughtful and strong remedy in the case you are hearing today, our few remaining domestic manufacturers will be decimated and we risk ceding the leadership in this industry to other countries. American manufacturers can compete successfully if they have a fair shot, and they can help the industry grow and prosper. Our U.S. companies benefit greatly from market stability and certainty, both of which are bolstered when the United States enforces our trade laws and agreements.
Finally, as you deliberate and determine your remedy recommendations to the President, I urge you to consider both the harm our domestic manufacturers have already experienced and the potential for American job growth in this industry when the playing field is level.
Thank you for considering my testimony and for your work on the Commission.