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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Schumer-Manchin Reconciliation Act: Climate Change Provisions

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Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) leaves the United States Capitol after a vote, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 9, 2022.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., unveiled on Wednesday a much-anticipated reconciliation package that would invest hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change and advance clean energy programs.

The 725-page piece of legislation, called the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” provides $369 billion for climate and clean energy utilities, the most aggressive climate investment Congress has ever made. The bill’s climate provisions (summarized here) would cut the country’s carbon emissions by about 40% by 2030, according to a deal summary.

The abrupt announcement of the deal came less than two weeks after Manchin, a major centrist who holds the swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, said he would not support climate regulations until he had a better understanding of inflation numbers for July.

If passed and signed into law, the law would include funding for the following:

Production of clean energy products, including a $10 billion investment credit for manufacturing facilities for things such as electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels, and $30 billion for additional manufacturing tax credits to accelerate domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and the processing of critical minerals. It would also include up to $20 billion in loans to build new clean car plants in the US, and $2 billion to renew existing car plants to make clean vehicles.

Reduce emissions, including $20 billion for the agricultural sector and $3 billion to reduce air pollution in ports. It also includes unspecified funding for a program to reduce methane emissions, which are often produced as a byproduct of oil and gas production and are more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere. In addition, the law allocates $9 billion to the federal government to purchase American-made clean technologies, including $3 billion for the US Postal Service to purchase zero-emission vehicles.

Research and developmentincluding a $27 billion clean energy technology accelerator to support the deployment of emissions-reducing technologies, and $2 billion for cutting-edge energy research in government labs.

Conservation and support of natural resourcesincluding $5 billion in grants to support healthy forests, forest conservation and urban tree planting, and $2.6 billion in grants to maintain and restore coastal habitats.

support for states, including approximately $30 billion in grant and loan programs to states and utility companies to advance the clean energy transition.

environmental justice initiatives, at more than $60 billion to address the uneven impacts of pollution on low-income and communities of color.

For individuals, a $7,500 tax credit to buy new electric vehicles and a $4,000 credit toward buying a new one. Both credits would be available only to lower- and middle-income consumers.

“I support a plan that will promote realistic energy and climate policies that cut prices today and invest strategically in the long game,” Manchin said in a statement on Wednesday. “This legislation ensures that the market takes the lead, rather than ambitious political agendas or unrealistic goals, in the energy transition underway in our country.”

The Senate will vote on the proposed legislation next week, after which it will go to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the tax cuts and investments for energy projects in the agreement would create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy costs, and urged the Senate to pass the legislation as soon as possible.

The president has vowed to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. Without a reconciliation law, the country is on track to miss that target, according to a recent analysis by independent research firm Rhodium Group.

“This is the action the American people have been waiting for,” the president said in a statement on Wednesday. “This addresses today’s issues – high health care costs and overall inflation – as well as investing in our energy security for the future.”

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