US trade policy has traditionally sheltered American steelmakers from competition. Solar threatens that protection, they say.

Solar manufacturers have a new incentive to discontinue a tariff-evasion examination of Chinese panel makers. They say the Biden administration should assess how the probe affects climate change.

American steel is terrified. Competition, subsidies, and pricing have long determined unfair trade duties. Any new criteria could make future duties difficult for US producers.

US producers "even if you have a valid case and are losing employment" due to unfair competition, said Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul. Weakening it will hurt trade.

Many US senators have asked President Joe Biden to consider climate change as solar-installation proponents promote an alternative trade strategy.

"The government said they'd climate test everything," said SOLV Energy CEO George Hershman. "Doubtful? Unlikely."

Monday, Biden tried a new tactic. Using emergency powers, he froze solar panel prices for two years. Manufacturers chastised him.

Wiley Rein trade lawyer: "To avert this supposed national emergency, we'll rely more on Chinese-owned solar firms in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand." "It's wrong on many levels."

The trade case is crucial for US solar. Chinese solar companies may be dodging decade-old taxes by producing in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, leading shipments from those nations to decline.

Fear of retroactive tariffs has immobilised parts of the US solar sector, jeopardising installation jobs and slowing panel deployment—a major part of Biden's push to slash power system emissions. (Preliminary results due late August.)

The Solar Energy Industries Association wants a domestic manufacturing bill to study new duties. Others believe Commerce can determine it's not "appropriate" to strengthen existing regulations based on climate and economic considerations.

Steelmakers and workers lobbied Washington to oppose solar corporations. Trade regulations shouldn't be overhauled now, they say.

Trade lawsuit pits solar and steel, two clean-energy industries. "We're still thinking out the long-term approach," said Nucor CEO Leon Topalian. "We'll supply renewables"

Antidumping and countervailing tariffs help domestic enterprises compete with subsidised or underpriced imports. In the past, government rules dictated these commitments.

Antidumping and countervailing charges are different from Trump's national security tariffs on steel and aluminium. (Biden relaxed steel trade protections)

CSIS trade specialist William Reinsch believes antidumping and subsidies are governed by legislation. "You must establish you were damaged by dumping or subsidisation, not another cause. Verify these two facts."

Adding climate or public-interest tests would be risky. Even the Trump administration, known for reviving esoteric trade regulations, left antidumping and countervailing duty laws substantially intact.

Reinsch said climate influence "opens the door to a thousand additional requests." "Others will debate, too."