China, India steal U.S. solar jobs

The sky goes dark over the statue of late Chin...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

One of the more specious Republican claims about a carbon bill is that it will cost America jobs.

China and India are taking advantage of America’s climate bill stalemate to build an industry in renewable energy sources that has already cost America jobs.

BP Solar halted production of solar cells at its plant in Frederick, Maryland, this month, according to Chemical & Engineering News, and will lay off 320 of the plant’s 430 workers. The plant had already shed 140 jobs in prior cuts.

BP Solar’s headquarters will remain in the U.S., and the firm will continue to sell solar panels here, but the panels will now be manufactured in Xi’an, China, and Bangalore, India.

Earlier this year China became the world leader in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels. China’s manufacturing boom coincided with China’s passage of a law last year requiring utilities to derive 15 percent of energy from renewable sources. The law requires utilities to buy renewable energy even at higher rates and to improve the nation’s energy grid to make delivery more efficient.

The Obama Administration stimulated the supply side of renewable energy with $80 billion in the Recovery Act, and it estimates those billions should generate at least 253,000 jobs in renewable energy, beginning at the end of this year. But job growth has been slow (four days after the BP announcement, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis traveled to New York to celebrate 37 jobs at a new high tech solar plant). And the U.S. Congress has been unable to stimulate the demand side.

All Republicans in the House and Senate have opposed climate legislation, and although a carbon cap and trade bill passed the House without Republicans, oil and coal Democrats have kept it tied up in the Senate.

The plot thickens when you consider that the U.S., China, and India are the three stooges blamed for stalling international climate efforts as well. But only U.S. legislators are biding the delay by sitting on their thumbs.

A true tip of the slanty cap to David Los Angeles.

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