Tester, Daines, and Zinke unite to protect Butte workers

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, and Congressman Ryan Zinke are pushing to resolve a trade dispute between China and the United States that could negatively impact REC Silicon, one of Butte-Silver Bow’s largest employers.

The Montana Congressional delegation has sent a letter to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai urging him to work with the China Ministry of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative to resolve the trade dispute that is preventing China from purchasing polysilicon from REC Silicon to manufacture solar panels.

“Industries in both countries stand to benefit greatly from a mutually-agreeable settlement of this trade dispute that restores meaningful market access both for Chinese solar panel manufacturers exporting their products to the U.S. and for U.S. polysilicon manufacturers exporting their products to their Chinese customers,” the Montana delegation wrote.  “A prompt settlement of this dispute will repair and deepen economic ties between our two nations in a global industry that is playing a critical role developing clean, renewable energy sources.” 

The trade dispute began in 2012 when the United States imposed tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels after they were found to be intentionally driving the cost of manufacturing down by using unfair subsidies.  In 2013, the Chinese responded by applying heavy tariffs on U.S. solar-grade polysilicon, the polysilicon manufactured by REC silicon.

REC Silicon makes polysilicon and silane gases for electronic manufacturers and employs over 300 people in Butte-Silver Bow. 

The Montana Congressional delegation’s letter to Chinese Ambassador Tiankai is available HERE