A surprise deal made just last week between Democratic Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York has put into motion the most ambitious climate action plan ever taken by the United States.
Manchin had been holding out on voting for the spending bill for almost two years, stalling major climate legislation in the evenly divided Senate with 50 Republicans refusing to support the bill. He refused to vote on a new spending bill fearing it would contribute to the escalating inflation rate now at a 40-year high. Among his demands were that the bill provide for fewer tax increases, more fossil fuel development and benefits to his home state of Virginia, where coal mining is the predominate industry.
In a previous ClimateYou post by Senior Editor George Ropes, Ropes blamed Manchin for “ecocide” and was vilified for standing in the way of what was then called the Reconciliation bill. But last month, after weeks of secret meetings between both senators, Manchin agreed to support the $740 billion spending package on climate, healthcare and taxes.
The package , if signed into law, is known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and will enable the U.S. to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade. Billions of dollars in tax incentives will be available to clean energy industries such as wind, solar, geothermal and battery as well as incentives for carbon capture facilities.
A tax credit of $7,500 will go to car buyers with income levels below a certain level if they purchase a new electric car and $4,000 for a used electric car. Rebates will be available to those installing heat pumps to make their homes more energy-efficient.
The bill would allocate $369 billion to climate and energy programs, raise taxes on corporations and high earners, while lowering the cost of prescription drugs, extending health subsidies and reducing the deficit.
Another recent hold out has been Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema who argued for the package to include drought money for her state and to drop a $14 billion tax increase on wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity executives. After the package was altered to reflect her requests, Sinema announced her support for the bill.
Passage by the House, which Democrats control narrowly, could come next week.