We finally have some promising news out of Washington on climate and clean energy.
Thanks to yesterday’s bombshell deal between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), climate and energy investments are back in play in the budget reconciliation package, now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. By keeping those provisions alive, the Senate has also kept alive our country’s hopes of meeting our climate targets – and building a safer, more secure, and more prosperous American economy.
Two weeks ago – even two DAYS ago – many thought this wouldn’t happen. But the climate community kept fighting, even though the conventional wisdom might have counseled otherwise.
C2ES and myriad others worked behind the scenes to push for an agreement on a package that, at $369 billion, will be the largest-ever U.S. investment in climate and clean energy.
Today’s agreement by Leader Schumer & Sen Manchin on the Inflation Reduction Act including climate & energy provisions is welcome news.
This package includes key investments that will boost America’s energy security, lower costs for consumers and help to meet our climate goals.
— Nat Keohane (@NatKeohane) July 27, 2022
That effort built on many months of work by a wide range of organizations: the Climate Action Campaign, with its broad coordination among national environment, environmental justice, and public health groups; the groundbreaking work on methane by my former colleagues at EDF, which led to the fee on methane pollution included in the package; the work by Blue Green Alliance that has helped bring labor voices along; the work of the Sunrise Movement and 350.org to build pressure from the left; the analyses by Jesse Jenkins and his colleagues at Princeton, and by the team at Rhodium Group, which have informed the debate throughout. And many others too numerous to mention.
Companies, including many in our Business Environmental Leadership Council, kept up the pressure on the Senate to act. Businesses that were poised to invest in clean energy projects in West Virginia and elsewhere reached out to key lawmakers.
And of course, Sens. Schumer and Manchin and their staffs deserve enormous credit, as do a number of other offices including those of Sens. Wyden, Whitehouse, Coons, Hickenlooper, and others. So too, for that matter, the House staffers who were detained by Capitol Police this week during a protest to demand climate action in Leader Schumer’s office.
For our part, since learning that the major climate and clean energy provisions were in grave danger, C2ES continued to provide key Senate offices with information and analysis that could alleviate inflation concerns, while helping to mobilize business voices alongside ours.
Just two days ago, I joined CEOs from leading businesses and NGOs comprising the CEO Climate Dialogue who personally pressed the case for action with the White House, key Senators, and other Hill offices.
It turned out that urging our leaders not to give up on the most ambitious climate policy in a generation wasn’t just wishful thinking.
It’s what happened.
If @POTUS is serious about confronting the climate crisis and meeting the targets he himself has set, he should direct his team to keep pushing for climate legislation—until the very last hour of this Congress if necessary. The stakes are too high to settle for anything less. pic.twitter.com/IqvLdr1esm
— Nat Keohane (@NatKeohane) July 20, 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act would put the country on path to reduce emissions by about 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. That is a significant step toward meeting the 50–52 percent goal enshrined in the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution as part of our commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Its workhorse is a massive program of clean energy tax credits, which extends existing renewable energy credits, adds new credits for technologies like hydrogen and nuclear, and transitions the current system of federal tax incentives toward one that is technology-neutral and tied directly to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
The bill also includes a range of other important provisions including EV tax credits, investments in clean technology manufacturing, significant investments in environmental justice priorities, support for carbon capture, establishment of a climate bank, incentives for energy efficiency, a methane fee, and even support for resilience and nature-based solutions.
This is great news, but we can’t rest easy just yet.
The bill could see the Senate vote on it as early as next week, before the scheduled August recess.
But passage isn’t guaranteed; in particular, the revenue-raising provisions (which would impose a minimum tax on big companies and narrow the “carried interest loophole” for certain investors) may attract opposition from a handful of Democrats.
C2ES will continue to play an important role, working with Hill offices, companies, and others in the climate community to pass this proposal in the Senate and then the House.
We will also be sure to continue highlighting the support of the 25 leading companies called on Congress to pass climate and clean energy investments, featured in our Politico ad earlier this month.
And once the bill is passed, we will take advantage of our role as a trusted voice in the international climate arena to communicate the importance of this legislation to other countries looking to the United States for leadership as we head into the COP27 climate conference later this year.
Overnight, the mood in the climate community has changed from sobering to celebratory. It’s an exciting moment to be a part of. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and finish the job.