WASHINGTON – Senate Democratic leadership has announced the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes a landmark $369 billion to promote clean energy efforts for fighting the climate crisis, with incentives for clean power like solar, and for buying electric vehicles, or EVs.
The bill, announced late Wednesday as an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is the single biggest investment in clean energy and decarbonization ever proposed by Congress. The funding could give a vital boost to efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering energy bills.
But the legislation also contains some problematic energy provisions, including tax credits for aging nuclear power plants and subsidies for carbon capture projects.
“Congress needs to take bold action on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, if we’re to ever win the climate fight, and this bill is a strong step forward, with a historic amount of funding for that effort. We commend Sens. Schumer and Manchin for their hard work to find common ground and common sense,” said EWG President and Co-founder Ken Cook. “This unprecedented funding for clean energy and climate is urgently needed.”
The funding includes more than $60 billion to promote clean manufacturing, including tax credits for making solar panels, batteries and wind turbines, grants and loans for auto companies to produce EVs, $3 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to buy zero-emissions vehicles, income-based tax credits for private purchases of EVs, and $2 billion to accelerate research into energy breakthroughs, among several other important provisions.
Crucially, the bill also includes more than $60 billion in environmental justice measures that aim to help reduce pollution and improve equity in disadvantaged communities. Part of the funding is billions of dollars in grants to pay for projects that will address the disproportionate negative impacts to those communities, while promoting clean vehicles and power sources.
“Some incentives in this bill could be game changers for job creation and promoting clean energy choices that will dramatically help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also giving much-needed assistance to disadvantaged communities,” said Cook.
“The importance of the bill’s environmental justice and energy equity provisions, in curbing air pollution in overly burdened disadvantaged communities and providing much greater access to energy efficient, solar and energy storage technologies, cannot be overstated,” he said.
The bill also includes welcome provisions that focus on making homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient, with tax credit support for electrification of the building sector, as well as support for customer-owned solar and battery storage.
In addition to these important provisions, the legislation also includes a historic $20 billion to tackle a growing backlog of requests from farmers seeking U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Assistance for efforts to address the climate emergency.
The legislation does include a handful of problematic provisions. It continues to throw taxpayer dollars at sustaining nuclear power plants that are beyond their useful life, production of dirty hydrogen from natural gas, and highly expensive carbon capture projects. And there are zero steps outlined in the bill for eventually abandoning older, dirtier energy sources.
“Despite these less-appealing provisions, the market has already spoken with respect to its preference for clean power, energy storage, electric vehicles and green hydrogen. This bill will accelerate that transition to everyone’s benefit,” Cook said.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.