Democrats’ Reconciliation Package The ‘Biggest Climate Action In Human History’

by | Jul 28, 2022 | Politics

The climate and clean energy provisions in the surprise reconciliation package Democrats announced late Thursday are far smaller than the $555 billion in climate spending eyed in the initial “Build Back Better” plan that President Joe Biden unveiled last year.Still, at a whopping $369 billion, it would be the most significant investment the U.S. has ever made to confront fossil fuel-driven climate breakdown and its mounting impacts. Advertisement“This will be, by far, the biggest climate action in human history,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in a statement shortly after Democrats struck the deal. “The planet is on fire. Emissions reductions are the main thing. This is enormous progress. Let’s get it done.”Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it will be “the greatest pro-climate legislation that has ever been passed by Congress.” And in Thursday remarks at the White House, Biden called it “the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis and improve our energy security right away.”The new agreement, now dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act and which is expected to come up for a vote as early as next week, would set the U.S. on course to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, according to the one-page summary of the bill. The package comes on the heels of an analysis that found without additional policy actions, the U.S. is on pace to reduce planet-warming emissions 24% to 35% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade — far short of Biden’s 50% to 52% goal. The bill includes more than 100 climate and energy provisions. The bulk of the spending comes in the form of clean energy tax credits, grants and loans. It provides $30 billion in incentives for companies to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and batteries, as well as to process critical minerals. There’s another $10 billion in tax credits for the construction of new clean technology manufacturing facilities, up to $20 billion in loans to build clean vehicle manufacturing plants, and $500 million in Defense Production Act funds for heat pumps and critical minerals processing. AdvertisementThe package would lower the cost of electric vehicles for low- and middle-income Americans, with $7,500 tax credits for new EVs and $4,500 for used ones, and invest billions to electrify low-income households. An Electrify America Charging Station for electric vehicle is seen at Woodfield Village Green in Schaumburg, Illinois, Friday, April 1. A wave of new electric vehicle charging stations across the country is coming as interest in alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles is on the rise and could heighten further due to a global spike in gasoline prices.Nam Y. Huh via Associated PressAdditionally, the bill earmarks $60 billion to confront legacy pollution and invest in low-income and communities of color; $27 billion for a so-called “green bank” to boost clean energy and slash emissions, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities; $20 billion for climate-friendly agriculture; and $5 billion in forest conservation grants. …

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