Senate Passes Sweeping $430 Billion Legislation That Could Lower U.S. Carbon Emissions 40% by 2030
On Sunday, the U.S. Senate passed the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at fighting climate change, lowering prescription drug prices and raising certain corporate taxes. Following a long debate over the weekend, the tie-breaking vote along party lines was cast by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives, which is expected to pass it when they reconvene at the end of the week, reported Reuters.
“To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as Reuters reported. “This bill is going to change America for decades.”
Schumer added that the legislation has “the boldest clean energy package in American history.”
The bill contains more than $430 billion in new spending to lower carbon emissions, extend Affordable Care Act subsidies and lower the deficit, and would raise more than $700 billion in new revenue over the next decade, reported CNN.
The Act could make it possible for the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, according to independent analysis, The Guardian reported.
This would bring America closer to President Joe Biden’s goal of slashing emissions in half by the end of the decade. The entire planet must meet that goal in order to avoid disastrous global heating, scientists say, which will lead to a rise in droughts, heat waves and flooding.
The bill includes more than $370 billion directed at programs for climate and energy, The New York Times reported.
The bill has numerous tax incentives to lower electric costs by using more renewable energy and to encourage Americans to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) and electricity at home, reported CNN.
Up to a $7,500 tax credit could be given to some households for the purchase of an EV and $4,000 for the purchase of a used car, BBC News reported.
According to research firm Rewiring America, households that install rooftop solar panels, a modern heat pump and use an EV will see a savings of $1,800 on their energy bills, reported The Guardian.
The bill includes billions in incentives for U.S. producers of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, carbon capture and storage, as well as additional innovations.
If the bill passes the House, U.S. Postal Service trucks will also switch to electric.
The bill represents the biggest climate investment in American history and the largest win for the environment since the Clean Air Act, CNN reported.
The reduction of air pollution produced by fossil fuels would lead to thousands of fewer deaths, especially among people of color who live near oil and gas plants, reported The Guardian.
“You’ll have a lot of mutually beneficial impacts,” Gopal said, as The Guardian reported. “This should change the way the U.S. is viewed on the global stage and will encourage better pledges from other large emitters such as China and India. Increasingly I’m more optimistic that keeping the temperature rise under 2C (3.6F) is more reachable. 1.5C is a stretch goal at this point.”
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who led to the demise of the original Build Back Better plan when he refused to vote for it last year, told CNN he thought the new legislation, which he assisted in writing, was “a good balanced bill.”
“I think we’ll all benefit from it; the country will,” Manchin said to CNN. “We have energy security, that’s what we were looking for. And we have the ability to invest in the energy of the future.”
The condition by Manchin that oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska be included in the bill has been denounced by climate advocates like the Center for Biological Diversity. Manchin’s demand that, in order for wind and solar developers to be able to access millions of acres of federal land and water, those areas also need to be accessible for fossil fuel developments, was also criticized, reported The Guardian.
Legislators said the new bill is only the beginning of what is necessary in the fight against the climate crisis, CNN reported.
“This isn’t about the laws of politics, this is about the laws of physics,” Democratic Senator from Hawaii Brian Schatz told CNN. “We all knew coming into this effort that we had to do what the science tells us what we need to do.”