After years of back and forth debates, the Biden Administration’s once, twice and triple stalled climate bill finally passed in early August — something expected to get US emissions back on track to reach the climate goals set by the Paris Agreement.
The climate bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, is meant to put $500 billion worth of funds toward clean energy production and a plethora of other related climate-friendly policies.
Previously, the climate bill had been stalled several times in Congress as Senators – including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat often vocal on issues related to the fossil fuel industry – cited concerns over how such a bill would raise inflation and disrupt the economy.
According to Reuters, three laws made it possible for the Inflation Reduction Act to be funded.
A total of $514 billion dollars will come from laws including the IRA funding $362 billion, $98 billion from the infrastructure act and $54 million coming from the bipartisan-supported CHIPS law.
All three laws will continue to fund climate change related efforts — specifically the CHIPS bill which will fund efforts in material science such as developing new battery chemistry and more efficient solar panels.
Young people have a strong voice. And they've been speaking up about environmental injustice and the climate crisis.
The Inflation Reduction Act builds them a better future, cleaning up the pollution of the past and positioning us to cut emissions in half by 2030.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 23, 2022
A new wave of climate policies: The Inflation Reduction Act
The latest climate bill includes $369 billion toward climate and energy spending with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
An analysis from energy and climate analytics firm Rhodium Group estimates the bill could cut the US’s greenhouse gas emissions between 31% to 44% by 2030 — compared to their previous estimate of a 24% to 35% reduction with policies prior to the Inflation Reduction Act.
The reduction is intended to push America closer to climate goals set up by the Paris Agreement and triple clean energy production, adding an additional 550 gigawatts of wind, solar and other clean energy electricity.
The majority of spending will go toward expanding clean energy such as wind and solar production as well as creating more clean energy jobs, making electric vehicles more affordable for the average American and providing oil and gas companies with $1.5 billion to cut down greenhouse emission — and penalize them for not doing so.
Consumers wanting electric vehicles will be able to access a rebate of up to $7,500 for a new electric vehicle, up to $4,000 for a used car or $8,000 to install a modern electric heat pump which can both heat and cool buildings.
A portion of the money in the Inflation Reduction Act will also go toward supporting new clean energy technologies — something scientists note is essential in the fight against climate change.
New technology development will include hydrogen power, small nuclear reactors and carbon capture — a process being developed by major oil and gas companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron involving storage units meant to trap and isolate carbon dioxide.
Alongside clean energy efforts, $4 billion will be put aside to aid those in the southwest who have in recent months faced catastrophic climate-related droughts, specifically in the Colorado River Basin where over 40 million persons are threatened with limited water and electricity supplies.
Yet the latest bill appears meager compared to the original
Although the latest climate act passed by the Biden Administration is a win for environmentalists, controversy shrouds the bill as Democrats and Republicans argue whether it is too big or too little.
The current $550 billion climate bill is a pale reflection of the once ambitious $2.2 trillion climate package proposed by the Biden Administration over a year ago.
Slowly crippled by Republicans and Democrat opposers such as Senator Manchin, many parts of the original hard-hitting climate bill have been cut as those opposed cited concerns over inflation and the economic effects such a harsh and immediate climate bill would have — specifically the negative effect those reliant on the oil and gas companies would be faced with.
In essence, the majority of harsh climate legislation was cut from the bill and no carbon tax was included — a tax meant to charge oil and gas companies for the emissions they put in the air.
Others have criticized aspects included in the current climate bill such as Manchin’s insistence on continuing oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska as well as leaving open millions of acres worth of land for oil and gas companies as long as they are also accessible to clean energy companies — ensuring a future for the fossil fuel industry in America.
The bill’s investment into carbon capture by oil and gas companies is also being heavily criticized by environmentalists as they argue it will only prolong fossil fuel production — and most likely be yet again another unreliable effort by oil and gas companies to trap toxic materials that eventually always end up one way or another in the air.
The Inflation Reduction Act will surely benefit clean energy production in the long run, but as America continues to fund oil and gas companies alongside clean energy efforts, the “when will we see a difference” remains uncertain.
The latest climate bill certainly begs the question: can America move forward while still fueling the fires of the past?
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Windmills generating wind energy on November 6, 2020. Source: Martin Fisch, Flickr.