Last month, in a thrilling and unexpected move, the U.S. Congress successfully passed the Inflation Reduction Act. Although this bill addresses inflation, healthcare costs and more, it also happens to be the boldest and most comprehensive climate legislation in our country’s history.
But what, precisely, does this mean? Where does the bill succeed and where does it fall short? What are the next steps for change agents in the environmental movement?
Where The Bill Succeeds
The Inflation Reduction Act has a number of monumental provisions targeting the climate crisis. These include:
- Tax credits to incentivize more energy efficient lifestyles. These tax credits will make things like electric vehicles, rooftop solar panels and housing retrofits more accessible to the general public.
- Funding for the manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and other clean energy technology. This funding will help reduce the price of these technologies and relieve supply chain bottlenecks.
- Tax credits and grants to decarbonize the economy. By incentivizing greener manufacturing processes and greener commercial vehicles, these provisions will reduce emissions across all sectors.
- Funding to reduce environmental injustice. Among other things, this funding will invest in public transportation and air quality monitoring in the communities most affected by pollution.
- Investments in climate smart agriculture, forest restoration and land conservation. This funding will ensure that rural communities are at the forefront of climate solutions.
What an exciting moment in our country’s history! This legislation reflects decades of work accelerated by The Alliance Center, our community and the greater environmental movement. We have long understood the importance of investing in green buildings and green technologies: our building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in all of LoDo, and our Living Laboratory program pilots innovative solutions to the climate crisis. Additionally, our multi-issue Regenerative Recovery Coalition drives action with a number of regenerative agriculture initiatives, including a healthy soils challenge and a series of farm tours that aim to foster urban-rural relationships. After many years of work on these issues, it is uplifting to see significant federal funding and attention directed toward them.
Where The Bill Falls Short
Of course, the bill is not perfect. Unfortunately, it also contains provisions that reduce obstacles for fossil fuel projects. Oil and gas operations contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and are a primary cause of air and water pollutants. Despite Colorado’s commitment to reducing emissions, we continue to be one of the top oil and gas producing states in the country. The Alliance Center remains committed to supporting workers through a managed decline of the fossil fuels industry, and we hope that federal policy will one day follow suit. Until then, the Regenerative Recovery Coalition will continue to spearhead projects devoted to a just transition for oil and gas, including an upcoming roundtable series and an analysis of the oil and gas sector in Colorado.
What Comes Next
This groundbreaking bill is certainly cause for celebration. However, the journey to reach this point was arduous and its outcome was never clear. The unpredictable process of passing this legislation only highlights the everlasting importance of sustained, local action. We still have a long way to go before we achieve our vision: a sustainable and equitable future in which all communities thrive, democracy is strong, the economy works for everyone and the planet is healthy.
It will be exciting to observe the positive effects of the Inflation Reduction Act. In the meantime, stay engaged! Join the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, attend our next capacity building event, donate to support our work. The movement still needs you.