The Inflation Reduction Act is on its way to becoming a historic investment to address our enormous climate challenges. The bill includes a $370 billion down payment on our future, the largest amount the nation ever has spent on climate measures.
It’s about time.
The bill, which passed the Senate and House without Republican support, funds key building blocks to get the country to a 100% renewable grid, to slash our carbon emissions and stave off the worst catastrophes of a warming world, strengthening America’s hand when extracting climate promises out of other nations.
President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the landmark bill.
The massive IRA legislation also aims to lower prescription drug costs and increase business taxes to reduce the federal deficit. But stepping up the nation's transition to green energy has been so lacking in the halls of Congress and yet so urgent that the provisions on the table here are not just necessary but overdue:
- Expansive clean energy tax credits for wind and solar and other renewable sources which will smooth the transition to a grid that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels.
- Billions of dollars to help develop electricity transmission infrastructure, so needed on Long Island, one of the big roadblocks to getting clean energy widely distributed.
- A greenhouse gas reduction fund to funnel money into projects with big decarbonization potential, catalyzing investment in green infrastructure, with some of the money earmarked to low-income and disadvantaged communities. This can help drive LI's emerging blue economy which is anchored in offshore wind development.
- Lowering costs for households not only by pushing energy prices down but also with tax credits to consumers for electric vehicles, heat pumps, rooftop solar panels and backup battery systems.
- Funding for research centers like the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and billions of dollars in other investment that could clean and enhance our communities by adding buses, planting trees, conserving and restoring coastal habitats, reducing pollution at ports, and providing Superfund sites with funding paid for by companies that did the polluting.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer deserves the credit for shepherding this package. His work is not done. Long Islanders still need SALT relief from high taxes, and Schumer and the rest of the delegation must make sure the IRA climate dollars make their way to New York.
The bill includes some concessions, like opening federal acreage to oil and gas development, but the wider picture is what's at stake: multiple outside analyses estimate that the legislation would reduce emissions by some 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Long Island, bound by water and already familiar with the fury of hurricanes and the flooding from fierce storms like Sandy, is a proving ground for the importance of climate action. A major step begins now.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.