Tuesday, August 16, 2022

New Federal Climate, Energy, Healthcare Bill Signed Into Law; PA Groups React

On August 16, President Biden signed the new federal climate, energy and healthcare bill into law making the largest federal investment-- $375 billion-- in climate change fighting strategies, including investments in renewable energy production, tax rebates for consumers for energy efficiency and electric vehicles and more.

Key provisions include--

-- Clean Energy Investments: $30 billion for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, geothermal plants and advanced nuclear reactors, including tax credits over 10 years. Replaces short-term wind and solar credits

-- Carbon capture and storage tax credit of $85 per metric ton, up from $50

-- Clean Energy Bank: $27 billion for ‘green bank’ to support clean energy projects particularly in disadvantaged communities.

-- Farm Aid: $20 billion to cut emissions in the agriculture sector, including includes $8.45 billion for EQIP, $6.75 billion for the RCPP, $3.25 billion for the CSP, $1.4 billion for the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and $1 billion for conservation technical assistance. 

-- Energy Efficiency: $9 billion in rebates for Americans buying and retrofitting homes with energy-efficient and electric appliances.

-- Aid For Low-Income Communities: $60 billion to support low-income communities and communities of color, includes grants for zero-emissions technology and vehicles, highway pollution mitigation, bus depots and other infrastructure located near disadvantaged communities

-- Clean Energy Manufacturing: $10 billion in investment tax credits to build manufacturing facilities that make electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies

-- Electric Vehicle Tax Credits: Tax credit of up to $7,500 for the purchase of new clean vehicles, and offers for the first time a credit of $4,000 for used electric vehicles for households with maximum income of $150,000 a year

-- Natural Gas Leak Fees: $900 per metric ton of methane emissions that exceed federal limits in 2024, rising to $1,500 per metric ton in 2026.


The following statement was issued by the York County-based Evangelical Environmental Network on the signing of the bill into law--

“Today, we celebrate with President Biden, the majority of Americans, and the entire world that the United States is in the process of assuming its position as a global leader on climate change with the signing of The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

“The IRA marks the single largest investment to address the climate crisis, build community resilience in the face of extreme weather, and defend the health of our children from life-shortening fossil fuel pollution. 

“Together, with the two other members of the dynamic triplet – the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – the IRA will restore American Infrastructure, rebuild U.S. manufacturing, and revitalize American communities with much-needed, family-sustaining jobs.

“These bills stand to bring all Americans together by starting the process of addressing many of the problems that some have used to divide us. 

‘As evangelical Christians, the Bible is our guide to life, and Mark 12:29-31 (NIV) supplies Jesus’s most important commands:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 

“Together, these policies set the stage to love our neighbors and leave no one behind. From urban cities and former fossil fuel sites to America’s abundant rural and farming communities, all stand to gain. 

“Our children and grandchildren, to whom Scripture calls us to pass down a good inheritance (Proverbs 13:22), will especially benefit from the IRA’s investments in clean air, pure water, and a safer climate. 

“These bills provide the opportunity for all Americans to find an abundant life unhindered by pollution and begin the process of finally investing in communities who have long been forced to endure redlining and other racist acts. 

“It also provides hope to those communities who have suffered greatly to fuel America’s addiction to fossil fuels while sacrificing their own health and lives.

“While more action is needed, the IRA is a significant start. 

“We are thankful for President Biden’s leadership as well as Senator Manchin, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and each member of the United States Congress that voted for these bills, putting people before politics and hope above despair.”

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President for Environmental Programs and Restoration Alison Prost released the following statement:

“We have a lot to celebrate today. Combating climate change and saving the Bay are two sides of the same coin.  And while progress is being made, climate change is making saving the Bay more difficult.

“This law’s historic investments, especially in agricultural conservation practices, could be a real game-changer for the Bay and its tributaries, and for the bottom line of farmers in the region. 

“CBF thanks President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and House Speaker Pelosi for their dedication to getting this important legislation over the finish line.

“Most of the pollution cuts still needed to restore the Bay must come from agriculture, particularly in Pennsylvania. 

“Farmers are willing to invest their time, land, and limited funds to clean and protect local rivers and streams that feed into the Bay. But they cannot do it alone.

“This $20 billion funding infusion means USDA can afford to step up its commitment to helping Bay state farmers do their part to save this irreplaceable natural and economic resource. CBF urges USDA to seize this opportunity.”

Kelly Knutson, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, offered these comments--

“The impacts of climate change are already being seen and felt across the Delaware River Basin, which threaten over 13.3 million people who rely on the waters of the Basin.

 “It is essential that we forge a path forward to reduce the impacts of climate change on our communities and limit the devastation in the future,”

“We applaud Congress in addressing the urgency of a global climate crisis and look forward to supporting the administration on implementation. The Coalition recognizes this step forward and will continue to advocate for additional policies to further protect the region’s natural resources.” 

The Coalition was pleased to see these investments made in the law--

-- $250 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which includes $125 million for endangered species recovery efforts.

-- $2.6 billion for coastal and marine habitats to assist communities in becoming more resilient to worsening storms.

-- $3 billion to improve air quality and reduce pollution, particularly in disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color

-- $20+ billion in climate-smart agriculture, including U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs and technical assistance.

-- $200 million to the Park Service for deferred maintenance projects.

Resource Links: 

-- White House: Climate, Energy, Healthcare Law - By The Numbers

-- AP: What’s In New Federal Climate, Energy, Healthcare Law?

-- Financial Times: A Guide To The U.S. Climate, Health And Tax Package

-- Click Here for the text of the legislation

Related Article:

-- Congress Gives Final Approval To Climate, Energy, Healthcare Bill Sending It To President Biden

[Posted: August 16, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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