Mike Bloomberg: Trump's solar tariff will 'destroy US jobs' and raise electric bills

  • Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York city, said the U.S. government's decision to impose tariffs on imported solar cells will hurt the economy
  • In a post on Twitter, Bloomberg said the move will destroy American jobs, raise electric bills and hurt the environment
  • The U.S. moved to impose a protective tariff on imported solar cells and certain washing machines

The U.S. government's decision to impose tariffs on imported solar cells will destroy local jobs, raise electric bills and hurt the environment, according to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

In a Monday afternoon post on Twitter, Bloomberg wrote that the decision will "destroy U.S. jobs, raise Americans' electric bills and hurt our environment."

"Congress should stand up for American workers and consumers and overturn the administration's harmful decision," Bloomberg concluded in the tweet.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that President Donald Trump had approved tariffs on imported solar cells and certain washing machines.

The protective taxes on both kinds of imports would initially kick in at a higher rate in the first year, then decrease in subsequent years.

A 30 percent tariff would be applied to imported solar modules and cells in the first year. In the subsequent three years, that number would decrease to 25 percent, then 20 percent and then 15 percent.

The idea of tariffs sharply divides the U.S. solar industry. American panel manufacturers support tariffs, since they would cut competition from cheap Chinese imports. U.S. panel installers oppose them because fewer Chinese imports mean less work putting them in place.

Solar power accounted for about 374,000 jobs in the U.S., according to a January 2017 report from the Department of Energy.

Reacting to Monday's decision, the Solar Energy Industries Association — a trade body for the solar energy industry in the U.S. — said it was disappointed. The trade body said in a statement that the decision will "cause the loss of roughly 23,000 American jobs this year, including many in manufacturing" and it will also delay or cancel "billions of dollars in solar investments."

Last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in favor of solar panel manufacturers that were seeking protection from imports.

Lighthizer said in a statement that the tariff move made clear that the Trump Administration would always defend American workers and businesses.

Monday's move marked a new step in the administration's efforts to revamp existing trade deals between the U.S. and other countries. Since taking office, Trump has pulled the U.S. out of a major 12-nation trade agreement and started renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Trump has repeatedly said he wants better trade relationships for the United States — meaning deals that would see greater benefit to local businesses and American workers.

—CNBC's Ted Kemp and Christine Wang contributed to this report.