Citizen Input Needed for Climate and Clean Energy Progress
As we begin the new year, we decided to take a quick look at federal policies that would benefit from public feedback while they continue to work their way through the legislative process. The Build Back Better Act is a cornerstone for this administration’s agenda, and will benefit greatly from your voice. See our Clean Energy Policy Watch page to find your legislators. Read below for our background and summary of this legislation.
Climate Action and Clean Energy Needs
Laws and regulations focusing on building resiliency to climate change are a priority. Current proposals in Congress are designed to accelerate the decarbonizing of our energy transmission network, make it more robust to the changes, and begin to improve on carbon capture through better vegetation. When implemented it will positively impact our friends and neighbors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the nation, from coastal communities to urban centers and across the rural landscapes.
A Quick 2021 Climate Action Recap
Two primary legislative bills contained significant actions for clean energy and protecting communities from the current and future impacts of climate change.
The traditional Infrastructure Bill (now labeled Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) was pared down to primarily address funding for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. The final bill cut out climate provisions, the most important of which was establishing a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES). It has passed and is now signed legislation.
The administration’s Build Back Better Plan was modified to include many of the pared-out provisions above, including a modified CES and over $550 billion in climate spending. This money is directed at reducing climate-impacting emissions and preparing communities for climate change impacts.
Clean Energy Policies for 2022
As it stands in January of 2022, a core to the clean energy transition – the CES – is officially excised from the Build Back Better Act, the remaining legislation currently on the table.
However, much of the originally proposed climate spending remains. Some observers believe most of those priorities can survive further negotiations in creating a bill acceptable to pass both the House and the Senate. Here is a short summary of key spending priorities:
- Over $300 billion in tax incentives for producers and purchasers of wind energy, solar energy, and nuclear power intended to speed the transition away from oil, gas, and coal.
- Up to $12,500 in tax credits for buyers of electric vehicles, awarding the most credit to products with the greatest amount of American parts and built by union labor.
- Nearly $3 billion to improve the grid resiliency and accommodate increased wind and solar power transmission across the nation.
- A $40 billion “green bank” program to help communities finance renewable energy projects, with a portion targeted at helping rural electric cooperatives cover the cost of transitioning from coal plants to clean energy.
- A wide range of funding to improve environmental resistance to climate change including urban canopies/forestation to help the most disadvantaged communities and incentives to farmers to plant cover crops to manage soil fertility while increasing carbon capture on a large scale.
Lend Your Voice for Clean Energy Progress
The remaining Build Back Better Act is a very high priority for the current administration. It is expected to be a part of the legislative agenda as everyone returns to Washington after the holidays. Two possible scenarios for the year are that the bill is pared down slightly to overcome recent resistance or that climate and clean energy associated policies are separated out and addressed independently.
Whichever path forward is chosen, those of us who see the decarbonization of our nation as vital and not to be delayed can be a voice early in 2022. The administration’s climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 2030 require us to be as aggressive as we can be today. And the longer-term goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is attainable only if we start today.
The Build Back Better Act contains the minimal budgeting needed to leverage existing low carbon technologies and invest in refining and developing new technology for the future.
Visit our Clean Energy Policy Watch for more information on how to find and contact your legislators.