WASHINGTON, DC – More than 60,000 American factories have closed since 2001 – a rate of 3,000 a year. As supply chains have relocated overseas, our communities have been devastated with the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs and approximately 2.5 million overseas relocations.
The dawn of the millennium would mark the beginning of a new American century – for job growth, clean energy, and American leadership. Instead, Washington has increasingly abandoned the middle class, skyrocketing inequality, and surrendering our economic base and the benefits of national security to emerging adversaries.
And last year we saw the impact: global supply chains disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, crippling delays in international shipping, urgent shortages of critical materials – which in turn led to layoffs and production stops in factories in the US, too here in Ohio.
Major automakers were unable to source semiconductors for new vehicles, causing layoffs and production stops at Ohio’s remaining auto plants, including General Motors, Jeep and Ram.
Ohio has a rich history in American manufacturing, and the work done here has always been a microcosm of American manufacturing. Unfortunately, as American companies have increasingly outsourced production to foreign companies, aided by irresponsible and sometimes inhumane labor practices, once thriving manufacturing facilities in Ohio have had to close their doors. These closings not only harm employees, but also the surrounding businesses and communities.
It is long time to change something. Finally, Congress has several options on the table to address these challenges.
Laws like the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act or SEMA and the Clean Energy for America Act or CEAA promise to revitalize our country’s manufacturing sector, create sustainable, well-paid jobs, and at the same time protect our country’s national security by rebuilding the supply chains here to strengthen at home.
Why clean energy? Building solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and electrified vehicles – including new Ohio-built models from General Motors, Jeep, and Chrysler – creates millions of new jobs. In at least a dozen countries, clean energy is responsible for the fastest job growth in any country’s economy.
In addition, clean energy production and supply chains are at the core of protecting our communities from international instability, global disasters, and foreign adversaries. Tremendous parts of our clean energy supply chain – from mining key ingredients for batteries to assembling solar panels – are located abroad, a large part of it in China.
China has specifically sought to dominate clean energy manufacturing in order to gain a global strategic advantage. It has ruthlessly flooded markets and unjustly subsidized production to drive out competition – and, most shamefully, has turned to forced labor and concentration camps.
Congress now has the power to level the playing field – and show American workers that it has their backs. The Clean Energy for America Act would further fuel investment in clean energy by revising outdated tax laws to better support the U.S. manufacturers who produce our country’s clean energy technologies. Meanwhile, laws like the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act would reward US solar panel builders, stimulate solar production and job growth in Ohio, while reducing America’s reliance on China and forced labor.
Focusing on improving domestic clean energy production will help end reliance on overseas supply chains that are prone to disruption. It also has the capacity to revive US manufacturing employment.
Ohio can and should lead the way to a thriving clean energy economy and revitalize the reflection of American manufacturing. Now is the time for a forward-looking energy and production policy that can lead the country’s economy into the 21st century.
Alan Neuhauser is the spokesman for the American manufacturers for a clean energy industry.
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