Examining the Environmental and Climate Advantages of the Inflation Reduction Act

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TL/DR –

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the Biden Administration in 2022, allocated $369 billion for climate investments and clean energy, aiming to bring $3 trillion into renewable energy, create 170,000 jobs, and boost electric vehicle sales. This increased investment was projected to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to add an average of 46 to 79 gigawatts of carbon-free energy to the nation’s electrical grid annually. However, despite its environmental benefits, the act has been criticized for allowing the fossil fuel industry to expand, with fossil fuels reaching record levels of development and usage in the U.S. while the addition of carbon-free energy to the grid has been slower than anticipated due to project delays, supply issues and resistance from local communities.


The Inflation Reduction Act: A Deep Dive Into Its Environmental Impacts

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), ratified in 2022 by the Biden Administration, is lauded for its significant funding towards clean energy and climate health. It earmarks a whopping $369 billion for climate-related investments, incentivizing homeowners to install and invest in renewable energy solutions like solar panels and battery storage systems. This large-scale push towards clean energy is eyeing a $3 trillion injection into renewable energy, creating about 170,000 jobs in the sector, and boosting electric vehicle sales. [Source]

The IRA’s efforts were predicted to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This comes thanks to an estimated average addition of 46 to 79 gigawatts of carbon-free energy to the national grid each year. Moreover, the IRA also aims to make clean energy more accessible for disadvantaged communities and low-income households by providing increased tax benefits. [Source]

However, despite these advances, the IRA still accommodates the thriving fossil fuel industry. The bill passed the U.S. Senate following a $200 million lease sale for oil and gas companies to develop a large area in the Gulf of Mexico. A recent report by USA Today explained that the bill enables leasing of federal lands and waters for renewable energy only if at least 2 million acres of public land and 60 million acres in federal waters were offered for oil and gas leasing in the previous year. [Source]

Currently, fossil fuel usage is at a peak in the U.S., while the addition of carbon-free energy to the grid averages only 32 gigawatts per year due to various challenges such as project delays, supply issues, and community resistance. Supporters assert the need for energy security via fossil fuels as the clean energy sector continues to grow. However, critics argue that curbing oil and gas development could have expedited the clean energy sector’s expansion.

Despite its shortcomings, it’s important to remember that the IRA is still the largest climate bill ever passed in U.S. history, serving primarily as an economic bill with secondary environmental benefits.

Further Information: How the IRA Can Lower Your Energy Bills; The IRA’s Tax Incentives: Benefits for All Americans; The IRA’s Surprise Winner: The U.S. Oil and Gas Industry.

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