UPDATE 2-US senator asks Obama to curb Chinese solar panels

Thu Sep 8, 2011 7:12pm GMT

* Wyden says worried U.S. solar industry may disappear

* He says U.S. has "ample tools" to curb Chinese imports

* Second senator presses for China currency legislation (Adds background, senator comment on currency)

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - A Democratic senator on Thursday urged President Barack Obama to use U.S. trade laws to restrict surging imports of solar panels from China in a sign that high U.S. unemployment is increasing trade tensions.

"The American solar industry is facing unparalleled challenges and without the leadership of your administration this industry may disappear leaving behind additional workers without employment," Senator Ron Wyden said in a letter.

"Letting that happen is unacceptable."

The plea came just days after solar panel maker Solyndra LLC filed for bankruptcy, becoming the third U.S. solar firm to succumb to pressure from China in recent weeks.

Solyndra said it had been unable to bring down its costs quickly enough to compete with cheaper panels from China despite receiving more than $535 million in U.S. federal loan guarantees.   Continued...

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