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A Historic Climate Bill Just Passed the Senate: Here’s How the Legislation Will Help the Planet

A historic climate bill has made it through the Senate. Here are five ways the Inflation Reduction Act will help us save the planet.

Written by
Calin Van Paris

Good news, Earthlings: On Sunday, after a weekend-long debate, the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to curbing prescription prices and increasing taxes for corporations, the bill puts the country back on track to meeting the Biden administration's goal of halving emissions by 2030.

The move marks a historic win for those advocating in the clean energy and climate spaces, as well as everyone who calls this planet home (and wants to continue to do so). With $370 billion allocated for climate-minded spending, it's almost possible to overlook the concessions made for fossil fuels... but not completely. One particularly irksome Joe Manchin-mandated provision says that the Department of Interior must prioritize oil drilling over renewable energy when leasing public lands.

Still, the Inflation Reduction Act marks a major step forward for society and our environmental impact—and in this climate, we need to celebrate our wins where we can. Read on for five multi-faceted ways the climate bill will help to move our country in a more sustainable direction, as quoted from a summary of the act itself.

5 Ways the Inflation Reduction Act Will Help Our Planet

1. Clean Energy Incentives

Rather than simply investing in clean alternatives, the Inflation Reduction Act aims to incentivize Americans to make essential changes in their daily lives.

  • "$9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs, focused on low-income consumers, to electrify home appliances and for energy-efficient retrofits.
  • 10 years of consumer tax credits to make homes energy efficient and run on clean energy, making heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC, and water heaters more affordable.
  • $4,000 consumer tax credit for lower/middle income individuals to buy used clean vehicles, and up to $7,500 tax credit to buy new clean vehicles.
  • $1 billion grant program to make affordable housing more energy efficient."

2. Energy Security and Reliability

Another important aspect of the bill is its aim to create clean energy within the United States, thus creating jobs and ensuring its continued security and reliability in the face of supply chain and economic issues.

  • "Production tax credits to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical minerals processing, estimated to invest $30 billion.
  • $10 billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities, like facilities that make electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.
  • $500 million in the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.
  • $2 billion in grants to retool existing auto manufacturing facilities to manufacture clean vehicles, ensuring that auto manufacturing jobs stay in the communities that depend on them.
  • Up to $20 billion in loans to build new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities across the country.
  • $2 billion for National Labs to accelerate breakthrough energy research."

3. A Carbon-Light Economy

The transition from carbon to clean sources of energy won't be seamless, but it's an essential step—these provisions help make it a possible one, too.

  • "Tax credits for clean sources of electricity and energy storage and roughly $30 billion in targeted grant and loan programs for states and electric utilities to accelerate the transition to clean electricity.
  • Tax credits and grants for clean fuels and clean commercial vehicles to reduce emissions from all parts of the transportation sector.
  • Grants and tax credits to reduce emissions from industrial manufacturing processes, including almost $6 billion for a new Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program to reduce emissions from the largest industrial emitters like chemical, steel and cement plants.
  • Over $9 billion for Federal procurement of American-made clean technologies to create a stable market for clean products, including $3 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to purchase zero-emission vehicles.
  • $27 billion clean energy technology accelerator to support deployment of technologies to reduce emissions, especially in disadvantaged communities.
  • A Methane Emissions Reduction Program to reduce the leaks from the production and distribution of natural gas."

4. Community Investment

In terms of environmental justice, the act includes some essential (and thoughtful) safeguards to help ensure access to and allocation of clean alternatives.

  • "The Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants, funded at $3 billion, invest in community-led projects in disadvantaged communities and community capacity building centers to address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change.
  • The Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants, funded at $3 billion, support neighborhood equity, safety, and affordable transportation access with competitive grants to reconnect communities divided by existing infrastructure barriers, mitigate negative impacts of transportation facilities or construction projects on disadvantaged or underserved communities, and support equitable transportation planning and community engagement activities.
  • Grants to Reduce Air Pollution at Ports, funded at $3 billion, support the purchase and installation of zero-emission equipment and technology at ports.
  • $1 billion for clean heavy-duty vehicles, like school and transit buses and garbage trucks.
  • Some of the previously mentioned programs that focus on disadvantaged and low-income communities are also important to environmental justice, like the technology accelerator and consumer home energy rebate programs. In addition, many of the clean energy tax credits include either a bonus or set-aside structure to drive investments and economic development in disadvantaged communities."

5. Farmers, Forests, and Small Towns

The climate bill invests to guarantee that farmers and those who make their homes in rural parts of the country are seen, heard, and supported in our fight for a more sustainable future.

  • "More than $20 billion to support climate-smart agriculture practices.
  • $5 billion in grants to support healthy, fire resilient forests, forest conservation, and urban tree planting.
  • Tax credits and grants to support the domestic production of biofuels, and to build the infrastructure needed for sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuels.
  • $2.6 billion in grants to conserve and restore coastal habitats and protect communities that depend on those habitats."