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A contractor installs a solar panel on the roof of a new home in Sacramento, California.

For decades, American steelmakers have enjoyed a reliable shield against foreign competitors: U.S. trade policy. Now, they say, that protection is under threat from the solar industry.

Solar developers are pushing the Biden administration to scrap a probe into whether Chinese solar-panel makers are evading tariffs. And they’re supporting that stance with a novel argument: The administration should consider how the investigation is undermining the global fight against climate change.

This reasoning strikes fear into American steel. The United States has long set duties to combat unfair trade practices based on a narrow set of criteria centered around competition, subsidies, and pricing. Any new criterion risks making it harder for U.S. industrial businesses to win new duties in future disputes.


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