On Friday, Aug. 12, after its narrow passage through the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the largest climate investment in our country’s history and on Tuesday, Aug. 16, President Biden signed the bill into law. The Inflation Reduction Act is designed to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions roughly 40 percent by 2030. The Inflation Reduction Act is a $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill and is a pared-down version of the Build Back Better Act, which was a $2.2 trillion bill introduced in 2021 that failed to pass through Congress.
At a time when we are witnessing record-breaking temperatures, devastating wildfires, extreme flooding, and other environmental catastrophes that have resulted in tremendous amounts of damage and the loss of lives and livelihoods, the Act makes an unprecedented $369 billion investment in climate, clean energy, and environmental justice.
The Inflation Reduction Act is a large legislative package that contains a number of provisions for healthcare, taxation, and climate. To make it easier to navigate, we’ve broken down the four key takeaways from the passage of this historic climate legislation that Openlanders need to know:
- The Inflation Reduction Act is expected to reduce carbon emissions roughly 40% by 2030 through an unprecedented $369 billion investment in climate, clean energy, and environmental justice. It is estimated that these investments will create more than 9 million good-paying jobs over the next decade. Plans for clean energy expansion include powering homes, businesses, and communities with clean energy through the installation of 950 million solar panels, 120,000 wind turbines, and 2,300 grid-scale battery plants. While the Act makes significant investments in clean energy technology, it also designates funding for nature-based solutions to climate change.
- The USDA Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry program is set to receive $1.5 billion for urban and community forestry projects, with priority funding going to underserved and low-canopy populations, as well as state agencies, local government entities, tribal communities, and nonprofit organizations. These new investments will help expand urban tree canopies and advance equity in neighborhoods while creating jobs and bolstering local economies across the nation.
- The Inflation Reduction Act dedicates $60 billion to environmental justice projects by promoting legacy pollution reduction, increasing access to clean energy indisadvantaged communities, and investing in the creation of green jobs, especially in the forestry sector. Environmental justice priorities include creating Climate and Environmental Justice Block Grants to support community-led projects in disadvantaged communities and address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change, allocating funding for fenceline monitoring near industrial facilities, air quality sensors in disadvantaged communities, and making clean energy more affordable, especially in disadvantaged communities and Indian country.
- While we celebrate this monumental legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act unfortunately leaves out important nature-based solutions to climate change that were included in the Build Back Better Act. We must continue to prioritize nature-based solutions to climate change in future legislation, as among the things not included was the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), a priority for Openlands, which would have employed thousands of young Americans to help protect our natural areas and maintain public lands.
While the Inflation Reduction Act is “the biggest single investment the government has ever made in fighting climate change,” we know that the fight is far from over. We celebrate this historic legislation and will continue advocating for bolder future policies that take unprecedented steps to protect forests, plant trees in cities, create a green-jobs economy, undo the effects of environmental injustice, and much more.