Senator Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin agreed to a surprise $369 billion climate package on July 27.
The project could reduce energy bills, make EVs affordable, create 1.5 million jobs and save lives with cleaner air.
Senate Democrats could pass the most significant climate bill in US history this week, paving the way for cheaper energy and a more livable planet.
The surprise deal between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia would distribute about $369 billion to climate programs as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. It aims to expand renewables such as solar. , wind and cleaner fuels. , making it cheaper to buy electric vehicles and household appliances.
If Congress passes the bill, it would put the US on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 44% from 2005 levels by the end of the decade, according to various assessments. Experts say the bill also promises savings, health benefits and a better quality of life for ordinary people in the US.
“This isn’t about the sky or the polar bears,” Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, a climate nonprofit, told Insider, adding, “This is about you and your pocketbook, your jobs, the air. that your children breathe. , the city you live in, our national security.”
Here are five ways the new climate change package can make your life better:
Lower energy bills
The new climate proposal includes about $30 billion in loans and grants for states and electric utilities to adopt more renewable energy, as well as more than $60 billion in tax credits for manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines, vehicle batteries, and more. electrical, energy storage and other technology, according to a summary of Senate Democrats.
Solar and wind power were already generating electricity cheaper than fossil fuels, even before oil and gas prices soared this year. However, they still only account for about 20% of US energy use. The Schumer-Manchin deal could accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels and also make it less expensive to connect your home to electricity.
A total of $9 billion in home energy rebates would help Americans insulate their homes and replace stoves, ovens, water heaters and other appliances with electrical alternatives. Owners can deduct up to 30% of installation costs from their taxes. A similar deduction for solar would be guaranteed to homeowners and expanded to residential battery storage.
“It’s really about delivering lower energy bills to ordinary Americans,” Leah Stokes, a professor of environment and energy policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told a news conference Thursday. She noted that high oil and gas prices are one of the main drivers of inflation that affects all sectors, from transportation to manufacturing to agriculture.
“When fossil fuels go up, other goods and services go up,” Stokes said.
The average family could save $1,800 on their energy bill each year by installing a modern, solar-powered, electric heat pump on the roof and buying an electric vehicle, according to an analysis by Rewiring America, a think tank that promotes electrification. .
cheapest electric vehicles
The bill would extend a $7,500 tax credit for new EVs — offered as a point-of-sale discount — and offer up to $4,000 for used EVs and plug-in hybrids.
It would also raise the cap on the number of tax breaks automakers can offer, benefiting companies like Tesla, General Motors and Toyota that have already hit the cap, as long as the vehicle is assembled in the US.
“Once people own an electric car, they’re going to laugh every time they walk by a gas station, when they see $5 a gallon,” Foley said, adding, “I think this will help us get to a point of inflection, where five years from now you won’t see gasoline cars sold anymore, or very few.”
There are some caveats, such as your income, the price of the vehicle, and where your parts are manufactured.
If you earn $150,000 or more per year, or $300,000 in joint household income, you will not qualify for the new car tax credit. There is a cap on the price of the car, too. Larger vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks must cost less than $80,000 and smaller cars less than $55,000 to qualify for the credit.
For used cars, the income limit is $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for joint taxpayers. The sticker price must be $25,000 or less.
The bill also requires vehicle batteries to be made with 40% minerals mined or processed in countries with which the US has a free trade agreement or recycled in North America. But supply chains for these minerals do not yet exist, E&E News reported. Most of the lithium, cobalt, nickel and other minerals used in electric vehicle batteries come from China, Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, although analysts told E&E News they hope the mandate will stimulate a made-in-America market.
Cleaner air to breathe
With fewer gas-guzzling cars on the roads and fewer industrial facilities running on fossil fuels, the air would be cleaner and safer to breathe.
“This type of climate measure can also reduce particulate matter or ozone smog, as a side benefit that would directly and immediately improve health,” Scot Miller, assistant professor of health and environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins, told Insider.
This drop in air pollution could prevent up to 3,900 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks by 2030, according to an analysis by policy research firm Energy Innovation LLC.
The American Lung Association pointed to these clean air and health gains in a statement Thursday, urging Congress to “act quickly” and “without delay” to pass the new bill.
The bill also includes provisions to fund the cleanup of hazardous pollution sites, which are disproportionately concentrated in low-income black communities.
The investment “is probably not enough, but it’s more than we’ve spent before,” Foley said.
jobs, jobs, jobs
By investing about $60 billion in manufacturing — everything from heat pumps to wind turbines — this climate plan would help keep energy companies clean in the U.S., securing “well-paying and, hopefully, union jobs,” Stokes said.
It’s not just manufacturing. Renewable energy infrastructure needs to be installed and maintained. The bill would finance new electricity transmission lines, offshore wind projects, housing renovations, renewable energy projects in rural areas, and repurposing or replacing defunct energy infrastructure.
All this work requires workers. The bill would create up to 1.5 million jobs by 2030, according to the Energy Innovation analysis.
The bill also focuses on communities historically associated with oil, gas and coal extraction, providing tax breaks for companies that create renewable energy jobs in those locations.
Climate change is making droughts, floods, wildfires and heat waves more severe and more frequent. These weather events cause serious damage to human property and infrastructure and cost lives.
The project would provide funding for communities to mitigate the health effects of extreme heat, prevent and respond to wildfires, and prepare for coastal climate impacts such as severe hurricanes and flooding from sea level rise. It also gives the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) increased funding for forecasting and research.
While the new funds will help communities adapt to extreme events, the project can also help prevent the weather from getting even more extreme. If the world reduces emissions enough to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, that could prevent a significant acceleration in gravity and the area covered by extreme weather.
“I think everyone I work with in the emissions community is kind of holding their breath and hoping that this [bill] passes,” Miller said.
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