Sunday, September 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't limit competition in solar energy market

Consumers, the environment and global security all benefit from competition in the solar energy market. But a case before federal trade commissioners could crimp the solar market, worsen America's trade and security ties, drive up costs and drive down innovation in the clean-energy sector. It also could cost tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. The U.S. International Trade Commission should put fair competition and the broader interests of consumers ahead of the grievances of two domestic solar manufacturers.

Suniva, a Georgia-based firm that originated the complaint, and SolarWorld Americas are seeking broad relief from the U.S. government for what they claim is a flood of global imports of solar cells and panels that is causing the "near destruction" of the U.S. industry. Despite anti-dumping measures against China and Taiwan, the petition maintains, China and others are still overproducing solar components and avoiding penalties by moving operations to third countries such as India, Vietnam and Malaysia, thereby sapping the price for American-made products.

The commission is treating much of the documentation in support of the petitioner's case as proprietary. But Suniva said the amount and value of imports rose more than 50 percent between 2012 and 2016. And last year, domestic production of solar panels fell 11 percent while production of solar cells fell 38 percent. The petition seeks a tariff on solar cells and a floor price for solar modules for four years. It also requests other measures, including new negotiations by the U.S. government to address the global glut in supply and the "proper functioning" of the solar markets.

Tariffs and price guarantees are, on their face, inconsistent with the "proper functioning" of competitive markets. There are many subsets of the economy where U.S. manufacturers are not competitive globally for all sorts of reasons, many of them self-inflicted. Opponents say the petitioners have only themselves to blame for failing to adapt more successfully to an evolving market, and they warn that any tariff or price guarantees would damage the solar industry more broadly by increasing the price for solar and softening demand. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which opposes the petition, said the tariffs could double the price of solar panels in the U.S. and cost 88,000 jobs in the industry, including 3,700 in Florida, as the panels become more expensive to distribute and install.

The commission, which heard the case last week, is expected to rule on the matter later this year. Any recommendation for penalties would be decided by President Donald Trump, whose hard line on trade and China would seem to promise a sympathetic ear. But this finding must be based on merit and not politics. Lower prices for solar parts have helped invigorate an emerging industry that promises cleaner air and energy, jobs and technological innovation. As the Sunshine State, Florida stands particularly to gain from lower consumer energy costs, greater entrepreneurial investment and the diversification of the energy grid. The commission needs to see the distinction between fair trade and protectionism and be willing to focus on the broad public interest in opening the solar market.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18