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As Production Halts at Moses Lake Silicon Plant, Murray, Cantwell, Newhouse Call for End to U.S.-China Trade Dispute

February 8, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following an announcement that the REC Silicon plant in Moses Lake will shut down production, U.S. Senators Murray and Cantwell, and U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04), today called on trade representatives to end the solar trade war between the U.S. and China.

No workers will be laid off at this time—they will instead shift to focus on maintenance.

“Washington state workers and businesses need certainty to compete, which is why I will continue to urge both sides to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible,” said Senator Murray. “We need a settlement that covers both Chinese solar panels and U.S. polysilicon in order to support industries in both countries and the transition to a clean energy economy. This is too important for workers and our local economy to wait any longer.”

“Ending this trade dispute is importantnot only to saving hundreds of Moses Lake jobs, but also to maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. polysilicon manufacturers that are critical to growing the American solar industry,” said Cantwell, the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “I will continue doing everything I can to press the U.S. and Chinese trade teams to identify a quick and effective resolution to both the solar panel and polysilicon disputes.”

 “This is an urgent matter for workers in Moses Lake, and it is imperative that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative work together to resolve the trade standoff with China involving U.S.-produced polysilicon,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I will continue to work to urge a negotiated resolution to this trade impasse.”

The U.S. and China are engaged in an ongoing dispute over the trade of polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels. China is the world's leading purchaser of solar-grade polysilicon, and the ongoing dispute is keeping U.S. polysilicon manufacturers, like REC Silicon, out of the market.

The Senators recently met with Liu Danyang, the Chinese Deputy Director General for Trade Remedy Bureau of Ministry of Commerce, and other Chinese trade representatives to help resolve the dispute.

REC Silicon employs approximately 720 workers in Moses Lake and is one of the world’s largest producers of polysilicon for the solar energy industry.