STATEMENT: Senate votes heralds cleaner future, safer climate

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Inflation Reduction Act would reduce emissions 40 percent

WASHINGTON – Midway through a summer full of brutally hot weather, flash floods and worsening drought, the U.S. Senate passed the largest-ever package of climate and clean energy investments. The Inflation Reduction Act includes roughly $369 billion in climate spending, designed to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and put the United States’ Paris Climate Accord goals within reach. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday, August 12.

The bill includes key provisions related to:

  • Clean energy: $9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs to electrify home appliances and for energy efficient retrofits; ten years of consumer tax credits to make heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC and water heaters more affordable so homes can be more energy efficient and run on clean energy; and a $10 billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities, including facilities that make electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.

  • Electric vehicles: A $4,000 tax credit for consumers to buy used electric vehicles and up to a $7,500 tax credit for consumers to buy new EVs; $3 billion for electric U.S. Postal Service trucks; $1 billion for electric heavy duty vehicles, such as school buses and garbage trucks; and $3 billion for zero-emission technology at U.S. ports.

  • Pollution reduction and natural climate solutions: A methane emissions reduction program, a reinstated “polluter pays” tax to increase funding to clean up Superfund toxic waste sites and $50 million to inventory and protect old-growth forests, which absorb global-warming carbon emissions, on National Forest System land.

The bill represents a compromise and includes some provisions that will benefit fossil fuel development, including requiring lease sales for offshore drilling and providing tax incentives that would help coal and gas plants. However, modeling by Energy Innovation found emissions increases from these provisions are offset 24 to 1 by the bill’s climate-friendly provisions. The group also found that ​​the bill could prevent 3,700 to 3,900 deaths in 2030, in addition to 99,000 to 100,000 avoided asthma attacks.

U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale issued the following statement:

“This is a big deal. The Senate just passed an historic investment in a clean and healthy future for Americans. Climate change is the challenge of our times and what we do to address it today will have lasting effects on generations to come.

“Not everything in the bill is perfect, and there remains work to do, but the clean energy tax credits in particular will inject a jolt of (renewable) energy into state and local efforts to reduce emissions and clean the air. They will help make it affordable for Americans of all stripes to switch to electric vehicles, put solar panels on their roofs and purchase cleaner, healthier electric appliances that don’t pump pollution in our homes and air. The funding in the bill will help electrify the U.S. Postal fleet and help communities clean up toxic Superfund sites, while requiring polluters to bear the cost. In addition to making major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, these provisions will significantly reduce air pollution that makes people sick.

“We thank President Biden for his climate leadership and each senator who voted yes, and urge Congress to quickly finish the job.”

Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, released the following statement:

“The Senate just unlocked a much brighter future for Americans and the planet. Nature and human ingenuity have made it increasingly possible for us to power our homes, cars and businesses with clean, renewable sources such as the sun and wind. And as the climate warms, making this transition is of the utmost urgency. The renewable energy and electric vehicle tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act are a real game-changer that will make it cheaper and easier for individuals, businesses, school districts and more to ‘go solar,’ swap out old, polluting vehicles and save energy.

“Climate change affects every one of us. Now, this bill helps us all to be part of the solution. It’s also a compromise and does far too much for fossil fuels, but it’s a big step forward. The House should pass Sens. Schumer and Manchin’s Inflation Reduction Act immediately and send it to President Biden to sign into law.”