The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which Congress approved in August is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% below 2005 levels. It’s the strongest effort in US history to address the climate crisis. And it raises the bar and will encourage states, other counties, and the private sector to do more. It also reduces the federal deficit and prescription drug prices.
Residential energy costs and clean energy production
- IRA provides rebates for improving access to energy efficient technologies and tax credits for using heat pumps, rooftop solar, high-efficiency electric heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and water heating.
- It provides funds for the continuation of production and investment tax credits for clean energy manufacturing, including solar and wind power and energy storage.
- A ‘side deal’ was added to bring up a separate bill in the Senate to tackle permitting reforms to accelerate the approval of energy infrastructure projects. That bill will require 60 votes to pass.
- Tax credits for the purchase of new EVs are extended and created for used EVs in an effort to increase low- and middle-income access.
- Batteries must meet ‘Made in America’ requirements, and firms have already announced 13 battery plant construction projects which are expected to be completed by the end of 2025.
Industrial sector and transportation infrastructures
- Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from heavy industry sources (responsible for 30% of US emissions) and injects it into the ground. It also allows natural gas suppliers to sell the CO2 to the oil industry to inject into oil fields and extract additional oil.
- IRS provides focused incentives for decarbonization as a solution for heavy fossil fuel industries — chemicals and fertilizers, and especially concrete, steel, and asphalt for highways and bridges.
Cleaning up the environment
- $28 billion is allocated for climate-smart agriculture, forest conservation and tree planting, and the protection and restoration of coastal habitats. Another $4 billion is provided for drought resiliency in western states.
- A new fee will be levied on the methane released in flared gas, and methane reductions are required in the transporting of natural gas.
- IRA specifically gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more authority to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases and promote renewable energy.
Senator Joe Manchin compromise
- IRA mandates lease sales for new gas and oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and Cook Inlet in Alaska. It also requires the US Interior Dept to hold auctions for fossil fuel leases if it plans to approve new wind/solar projects on public lands. Earthjustice intends to vigorously oppose these concessions and SEM will be supporting its advocacy efforts.
Sadly, no Republicans in Congress voted for IRA. Youth activists (Sunrise, NextGen America) view it as only a first step. They want less talk and more action to actually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.
WA Senator Joe Fitzgibbon (D; West Seattle) says, “The [IRA] is almost all carrots. It’s great for us in Washington because we already have the sticks in place.”
People who want additional information can click on these enlightening and encouraging links:
The Earth is Sacred – Not Ours to Wreck