Chinese solar panels seized at the US border over the possible use of slavery

Several Chinese solar firms have had their shipments to the U.S. detained or sent back during the past several weeks as customs agents enforce a new law called The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Under the new law, companies must prove that imported solar panels weren’t produced using slavery, and the level of documentation required by authorities so far has caught many in the industry off guard.

It is difficult to prove that the Chinese solar panel components weren’t produced with slave labor because the Xinjiang region of China has historically been a major player in the solar industry, with roughly 41 percent of the global manufacturing capacity for the crucial panel component polysilicon, according to Clean Energy Associates. 

The Washington Post had an interesting article highlighting the “tension” the Biden administration is facing as it attempts to increase the nation’s use of solar panels when many of them are manufactured using slave labor:

Solar is the fastest-growing source of new electricity generation in the United States, according to the Biden administration, which is aiming to boost it from 3 percent of electricity generation today to more than 40 percent by 2035.

The ban brings to the fore the tension between the administration’s human rights agenda and its efforts to address the climate crisis.

The Washington Post story goes on to cite the deeply discredited renewable energy professor from Stanford University, Mark Z. Jacobson, in an attempt to excuse genocide and slavery:

“We want to rapidly transition our fuels to solar and wind and other renewables,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a renewable-energy expert and engineering professor at Stanford University. “Any slowdown of this transition creates a loss of life,” he added, noting that the burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of air pollution that causes 78,000 deaths per year in the United States and 7 million globally.”

Jacobson’s talking points are flawed because air quality in the United States is some of the best in the world, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data showing our air already meets the most recent air quality standards designed to protect vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.

In fact, EPA freely admits that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality, meaning there is no way to pretend that using solar panels made with slave labor in China is saving lives in America; it is simply a red herring designed to give distract from the fact that the solar industry is only viable because of the Chinese use of slave labor and factories powered by coal.