US President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law, which aims to invest hundreds of billions into fighting climate change.
The $430 billion act will also reduce some prescription drug costs, and increase taxes on corporations. Those tax changes mean that the legislation will bring in $790 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, leading to an overall deficit reduction of $305bn.
"With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost," President Biden said when signing the bill, although the IRA still includes several sections supporting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
"This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever — ever — and it’s going to allow — it’s going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of my climate goals — the ones we set out when we ran," Biden said.
DCD detailed what was in the bill earlier this month, but highlights include tax credits for electric vehicles; $6bn in reducing emissions in polluting industries like cement and steel; $30bn in tax credits for clean energy and energy storage; $60bn for manufacturing clean energy systems; $27bn for a green bank; and $4bn for US drought protection.
But the law also states that approving renewable energy development on federal lands is tied to the auctioning of oil and gas leases. The Department of the Interior is also required to sell leases for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.
To win over Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a coal baron who blocked more expansive bills and delayed progress on climate change by years, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York promised him a separate bill to speed up the permitting process for new energy projects.
That would help a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia be approved, and leave the door open to more fossil fuel projects being passed with a weaker environmental review process. However, it could also help renewable energy projects and transmission lines pass faster.
The Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law amid a lengthening drought across the US, the disappearance of snow, a once-in-1,000-year record flood in Death Valley, and the now-normal spread of wildfires.
Scientists estimate that the IRA will lead to net emissions reductions of 40 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels - below the Biden Administration's aim of a 50 percent reduction, a science-based target aimed at minimizing the worst of climate change's impact on the planet and people.
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