President Joe Biden's secretary of the Army said solar panels installed at Fort Bragg were "probably made in China," where top solar companies are known to use slave labor.
Army secretary Christine Wormuth made the shocking admission during a Wednesday House Armed Services Committee hearing. While the Biden nominee said she did not know exactly where a solar panel system installed last year at Fort Bragg came from, she assumed the panels came from China, because "many solar panels" are made there. "I would imagine, given that most solar panels are made in China, there's a good chance that those panels were made in China," Wormuth said. "Since most panels are made in China, they're probably made in China."
The revelation comes as the U.S. Army touts its first-ever climate strategy, which the military branch says will help it attain "net-zero" emissions by 2050. As part of that strategy, the Army last summer installed a floating solar power panel at Fort Bragg, which it said would provide "energy security."
Florida Republican congressman Mike Waltz, whose line of questioning led to Wormuth's comments, expressed bewilderment over the Army's apparent use of Chinese solar panels during the Wednesday hearing.
"I find that just jaw dropping," Waltz said. "To drive our military into greater dependency on our greatest adversary to power our bases, much less our fighting vehicles, in the future—to me, [it's] a huge problem."
China dominates the solar panel supply chain and manufacturing process, with 80 percent of the world's solar panel supply coming from the communist nation in 2019. Much of that supply chain is riddled with slave labor. A 2021 report from consulting firm Horizon Advisory linked many of China's largest solar companies to slave labor in China's Xinjiang region, where more than one million Uyghur Muslims are detained in concentration camps.
Biden's push to deploy green energy has brought solar panel shipments linked to slave labor to American ports. Last year, the United States from June to November seized more than 1,000 solar shipments over slave labor concerns, according to Reuters.