Congress Gives Final Approval to Climate, Energy, Healthcare Bill Sending it to President Biden

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest Blog | August 12, 2022

On August 12, the U.S. House passed compromise legislation that would make the largest federal investment– $375 billion– in climate change fighting strategies, including investments in renewable energy production, tax rebates for consumers for energy efficiency, 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.

Reactions

The York County-based Evangelical Environmental Network released this statement on the final approval of the U.S. Senate Climate, Energy and Healthcare bill–

“With today’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by the U.S. House of Representatives, we are just one signature away from the single largest legislative investment in climate, health, and access to clean energy in American history. 

“As evangelicals, scripture calls us to be good stewards of all God’s creation – this includes both the natural world as well as each other. The IRA opens up new doors and avenues for American families and businesses to do just that.

“Through financial rebates and tax incentives, the IRA will make it easier for lower and middle-income families to choose clean energy; save money by weatherizing their homes; upgrade to energy efficient appliances, heat pumps, and all-electric cars; and install rooftop solar. 

“These actions, together with the other provisions in the IRA, are estimated to lower household energy bills by up to $220 per year, prevent over 3,000 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks per year by cutting life-threatening air pollution, create over 9 million clean energy and manufacturing jobs, and get America more than two-thirds of the way toward our carbon reduction goals by 2030. 

“The IRA will also enable America’s farmers and foresters to improve soil and forest health, sequester carbon, and increase their resilience to climate-fueled extreme weather, while enabling rural communities and electric co-ops to access and benefit from renewable energy. 

“The IRA will also prompt oil and gas companies to be better stewards of America’s precious natural resources through the Methane Emission Reduction Program – the first direct federal fee on greenhouse gas emissions. 

“This fiscal incentive will encourage industry to perform adequate infrastructure maintenance and stop wasteful leaks of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and other associated gases that pollute and poison our air and water. 

“We also thank Congress for taking the fiscally responsible step of increasing the royalty rate for commodities extracted on Federal land, which had not been changed in over 100 years, costing the American people up to an estimated $300 million per year in lost revenue. 

“EEN also applauds the IRA’s historic investments in frontline communities and coal mining communities alike, who have both suffered disproportionately under the burden of pollution in the name of meeting America’s energy and industrial needs.  

“At EEN, we envision a world free from the burden of pollution where all children, regardless of zip code or background, have the hope and expectation for a safe climate and healthy future. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a pivotal step toward achieving that reality. Yet so much more is left to be done. 

“So while today we celebrate this history-shaping legislation, we also take this moment to recommit ourselves to partnering with Christ in his mission to bring abundant life to all people and to restore all of God’s creation. 

“We recommit ourselves to working tirelessly to defend life from all environmental harm, especially those most at risk but least responsible for air pollution and climate volatility.

“As this legislation heads to the President’s desk, we thank President Biden for his leadership and are grateful to House Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Chairs Castor, Neal, Grijalva, Pallone, and Scott, their staff, and the many others involved in seeing this transformative bill cross the finish line.”

Pennsylvania-based Young Evangelicals for Climate Action had this to say–

“Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), moving us one step closer to the largest climate legislation in history being signed into law.

“YECA is thrilled that this momentous piece of legislation is finally ready to cross the finish line. 

“We would like to thank the Members of Congress who worked diligently over the past year to pass this critical plan to reduce emissions and make progress toward environmental justice. 

“We are also grateful for the many young Christians who have long advocated for bold, transformative climate policy in a variety of ways including phone calls, emails, an open letter to Congress, Letters, and a rally on Capitol Hill

“Your voices, time, and actions have truly made a difference. 

“With the IRA, our elected officials have finally taken significant action to begin addressing climate change. These investments will put the U.S. on a path to significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

“Additionally, this legislation includes:  

— Historic investments for clean energy jobs and community climate resilience

— Incentivizing innovation to help cut carbon emissions

— Limiting wasteful leaks of climate-warming methane and associated toxic air pollutants 

— Lowering energy bills for families with affordable clean energy and home energy efficiency

— Directing $60 billion of investments to frontline communities

— Tax credits to make electric vehicles more affordable 

“The Inflation Reduction Act is certainly not enough, and it is missing many critical protections and investments that were included in previous proposals. The bill also falls short in advancing environmental justice in communities most impacted by pollution. 

“The IRA is progress, but there is much more to be done. 

“Tomorrow holds more work, but today we celebrate this historic moment alongside countless advocates who have worked tirelessly for the sake of our common home. We look forward to continuing the work of faith-rooted climate action and invite you to join us.”

Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel, issued the following statement:

“After nearly two years of negotiations and stalemates, our country can take a deep breath, bask in this moment, and celebrate the fact that we finally have a historic climate bill that will move the country towards meaningful climate action. 

“While no piece of legislation is perfect, the Inflation Reduction Act will make a historic $369 billion investment in climate change solutions, create millions of high-paying jobs in building America’s clean energy economy, and help prevent thousands of premature deaths by 2030. 

“This bill is a game changer and a much-needed step in the right direction as most Americans are already facing the devastating impacts of climate change.” 

“Especially critical for Pennsylvania, the nation’s second largest producer of fossil gas, the IRA will put a price on climate-warming methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, starting at $900 a ton in 2024 and increasing to $1,500 a ton for companies that fail to comply with EPA’s upcoming pollution standards for new and existing oil and gas facilities. 

“This is an essential complementary tool for reducing methane emissions, which are already causing 30% of the global warming that we are experiencing today. 

“We are also excited to see at least $60 billion of investments for programs prioritized by environmental justice communities and advocates.”

“Because this moment arrived after such long, difficult negotiations, we must also acknowledge this is a compromise bill. 

“It does contain troubling giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and could threaten communities that have already suffered disproportionate impacts from fossil fuel pollution. Clean Air Council plans to closely analyze the forthcoming separate bill resulting from these negotiations that will deal with permit reforms. 

“Still, even as the fight to protect against the worst impacts from climate change moves forward, we can breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief that the historic amount of good included in this bill far outweighs the bad. Today is a day to celebrate long-awaited federal climate action.”

Matthew Stepp, PennFuture Interim President and CEO, had these comments–

“The landmark Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is the single biggest federal investment in climate change, environmental justice, and family sustaining clean energy jobs in our lifetimes.

“This legislation will take critical steps to eliminate carbon pollution by making an historic investment of $369 billion in zero-carbon technologies, clean manufacturing, and energy innovation, putting the United States closer to its international climate goal.

“Nonetheless, PennFuture has deep concerns that this deal could perpetuate fossil fuel development and sacrifice zones throughout Appalachia depending on how it’s implemented. 

“We must remain committed to ensuring these clean energy investments are made equitably and don’t leave polluted communities behind, because if done correctly, this will go down as the most consequential climate investment and justice bill ever passed by Congress.”

“But when looking through the lens of carbon reductions, this bill is a gamechanger. It establishes a new economic vision around family sustaining jobs, sustainable industries, and homegrown clean tech manufacturing. 

“PennFuture applauds each member of the House of Representatives and Senate who has spent decades fighting for climate policies and helped get this bill to President Biden’s desk. 

“We look forward to supporting its implementation in the months and years ahead, particularly to ensure that it promotes a clean energy industry in Pennsylvania, not more pollution through carbon capture, hydrogen, pipelines, and fracking.”

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Executive Director Molly Parzen issued the following statement– 

“This is truly a historic moment and a hard-fought victory for clean energy, environmental justice, and a vibrant economy. 

“The House of Representatives has joined the Senate in taking a tremendous step forward in the fight against climate change by sending the Inflation Reduction Act to President Biden for his signature. 

“This landmark legislation represents the largest climate investment in our nation’s history. 

“It will invest $370 billion to create a 21st century clean energy economy while creating family-sustaining union jobs, expanding economic opportunities for communities of color and low-income neighborhoods and helping to provide long-term energy security in the face of rising global threats, like Russia. 

“We want to thank every single Democratic member of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation for supporting this transformative legislation. 

“Change never comes easy, but after more than a year of hard-fought debate we know that the advocacy of so many people helped bring the Inflation Reduction Act over the finish line. 

“While this bill is not perfect and we still have more to do, we can be proud that we have seized this historic moment to build a more prosperous and sustainable future for Pennsylvania and our nation.”

Resource Links:

— The Hill: What’s In The U.S. Senate Climate, Energy, Healthcare Bill

— AP: What’s In U.S. Senate Compromise Climate, Energy Bill

— NYT: What’s In The U.S. Senate Climate, Energy Bill

— WSJ: What’s In The U.S. Senate Climate, Energy Bill

NewsClips:

— AP: Congress OKs Democrats’ Climate, Energy, Health Bill Sending It To Biden

— AP: Sweeping Climate Bill Pushes American Energy To Go Green

— USA Today – Kyle Bagenstose: U.S. Making Big Down Payment On Climate Change, Here’s What Needs To Come Next

— York Dispatch Guest Essay: Passage Of Major Federal Climate Legislation A Victory For Future Generations – Citizens’ Climate Lobby

— The Guardian: Climate Bill Could Slash U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 40%

— AP: U.S. Senate Climate, Energy Bill Boosts U.S. Climate Credibility: ‘We’re Back, Baby’

— Reuters: Analysis: Democrats Score Big Wins On Climate, Drugs With $430 Billion U.S. Senate Bill

— AP: U.S. Senate Climate Bill – Spending Green Bucks To Boost Green Energy

— Bloomberg: Winners And Losers In Democrats’ Climate, Energy, Tax Bill

— Post-Gazette: Consumers Will Benefit From Lower Utility Bills, Cheaper Home Upgrades From U.S. Senate Climate Legislation

— Reuters: U.S. Climate Bill Exempts More Than Half Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Of Oil, Natural Gas Industry From Methane Fees

— USA Today: U.S. Senate Climate Bill Reinstates Oil Industry Tax For Superfund Cleanups

— Pittsburgh Business Times: U.S. Senate Climate, Energy Bill Includes Doubling Research & Development Tax Credit

Related Articles:

— Young Evangelicals For Climate Action Celebrate Progress On Historic U.S. Senate Climate Legislation  [PaEN]

— Pittsburgh Magazine: Can Pittsburgh Save The Planet? – Hosting The Global Clean Energy Action Forum 

[Posted: August 12, 2022]  PA Environment Digest | Source

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