September 23, 2022

Federal Legislation Represents Bold Action to Combat Global Warming – The Virginian-Pilot

President Joe Biden signed into law the Cut Inflation Act on Tuesday, the most substantial climate legislation passed by Congress in generations. While it doesn’t go as far as activists wanted, it represents a historic achievement in the effort to protect our communities for future generations.

This is particularly important for Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth, where rising seas threaten homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. While much more needs to be done, taking meaningful action should inspire hope that we can still avoid some of the worst expected effects of climate change.

As with every reconciliation bill passed by Congress, lawmakers have incorporated much into the Cutting Inflation Act — from health care measures to tax policy changes. The bill will cap prescription drug costs for seniors and halt increases in insurance premiums for low-income Americans, and it will institute a minimum tax for big business and increase funding for the Internal Revenue. Service, among other provisions.

However, the centerpiece of the legislation is focused on climate change, and what Congress passed was substantial.

Start with the biggest investment in climate action – $370 billion – in American history, money that will help the United States reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 40% per year. from 2005 levels by 2030. While this falls short of the 50% reduction promised by the Biden administration, it is a significant milestone.

The act aims to achieve this goal through a multitude of programs, initiatives and incentives. It will make clean energy tax credits more easily accessible, encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and the adoption of high-efficiency electric technologies (like HVAC systems) for homes and businesses, make it easier to manufacture equipment (batteries, solar and wind technology), and help farmers switch to sustainable practices that reduce emissions.

The analysis suggests the bill will create 1 million new clean energy jobs, which is exciting. It will be necessary to keep an eye on this figure, but it testifies to the long-standing assertion that the transition to a clean energy economy must not cause economic harm. This should create new opportunities for more American workers.

All of this has particular resonance in Hampton Roads, among the areas most at risk from rising seas. While it would be better if the legislation included more money for the resilience improvements we sorely need here, the potential for this region is undeniable.

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Manufacturing incentives, for example, should help projects such as Dominion’s offshore wind farm. The clean energy these turbines will produce will be beneficial, of course, but locating the construction of wind turbine blades and other components here will help transform our economy.

The legislation includes $3 billion to reduce air pollution at U.S. ports, which could affect the Port of Virginia, and some $315 million for air monitoring in low-income communities with high levels of pollution. (The coal dust-affected neighborhoods of Newport News and Norfolk are obvious candidates for funding.)

Tax credits for installing solar panels, rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles, incentives for improving energy efficiency and the prospect of lower energy bills are set to benefit millions of American families. And the collective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that should result will create a more sustainable and healthier environment.

There are plenty of detractors. Republicans voted overwhelmingly against the bill, arguing that the “Cut Inflation Act” will not reduce inflation and poses an unreasonable burden on Americans struggling to pay their bills.

But we know that climate action cannot wait – not when temperatures are steadily warming, seas are steadily rising, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and communities, like those in Hampton Roads, are facing a uncertain future.

This law represents hope – hope that we will not simply sit idly by and watch the worst unfold, idly as floods and fires ravage our communities.

The United States cannot hope to remain a world leader if it refuses to confront the greatest threat to both the nation and the world. With this legislation, Washington has done something bold. It is worth celebrating.