Shock deal will enhance Biden’s pledge on local weather change

WASHINGTON (AP) – A surprise deal reached by Senate Democrats It would be the most ambitious US action ever to tackle global warming, experts say, and could move President Joe Biden closer to meeting his pledge to cut in half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, experts said on Thursday, as they prepare to pass a massive bill. revive action on climate change weeks after the law appeared dead.

The deal announced late Wednesday will spend nearly $370 billion over 10 years to promote electric vehicles, launch renewables like solar and wind power and develop alternative energy sources. like hydrogen. The deal has stunned lawmakers and activists, who have given up hope that the law could be enacted after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said he could not support the measure because of inflation concerns.

Clean energy tax credits and other provisions in the 725-page bill could “put the United States on track to reduce emissions from 31-44% below 2005 levels by 2030,” according to a statement. The analysis was published late Thursday by the Rhodium Group, an independent study. sure.

Ben King, corporate vice president, added that action by the Biden administration and Democratic-controlled states could “help close the gap left to achieving the goal of 50-52% gas reductions.” waste by 2030”.

However, the bill is far from passing in the Senate by a 50-50 margin, where support from every Democrat is needed to overcome unanimous Republican opposition. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was forced to change earlier versions of the plan, declined to disclose his stance on Thursday.

In the narrowly divided House, Democrats could lose no more than four votes and win a partisan vote.

However, Biden called the bill “historic”. and urge to pass quickly.

“We will improve our energy security and tackle the climate crisis – by providing tax credits and investments for energy projects,” he said in a statement, adding. that the bill “will create thousands of new jobs and help reduce future energy costs. s

Environmental groups and Democrats also praised the legislation.

“This is the 11th moment for climate action and clean energy jobs, and a major legislative moment,” said Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean Power, a clean energy corporation. of the United States on climate and energy policy”.

“Passing this bill sends a message to the world that America is leading on climate and sends a message back home that we will,” said Zichal, a former energy adviser to President Barack Obama. create more jobs for Americans in this industry.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of the Federation of Conservation Voters, summed up her response in a single word: “Wow!”

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., tweeted that she was “stunned, but in a good way.”

Manchin, who chairs the Senate energy panel, insists he hasn’t changed his mind after telling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer two weeks ago that he could not support the bill because of inflation concerns.

“There should be no surprises. I’ve never been away from anything in my life,” he told reporters on a Zoom call from West Virginia, where he is recovering from COVID-19.

Manchin said the bill is an opportunity to “really give us an energy policy with the security guarantees we need for our country” while reducing inflation and high gasoline prices.

The bill, which Manchin calls the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” includes $300 billion to reduce the deficit, as well as measures to lower prescription drug prices. and expanded subsidies to help Americans buy their own health insurance.

In addition to investments in renewable energy such as wind and solar power, the bill includes incentives for consumers to purchase energy-efficient appliances such as heat pumps and water heaters, vehicles electricity and solar panels on the roof. Bill creates $4,000 tax credit for used electric vehicle purchases and up to $7,500 for new electric vehicles.

The tax credit includes a buyer income limit and a sticker price cap for new electric vehicles — $80,000 for pickups, SUVs, and vans, and $55,000 for smaller vehicles. A $25,000 limit will be placed on used vehicles.

Even with the restrictions, the credits will help stimulate growing electric vehicle sales, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. Electric vehicles accounted for about 5% of new car sales in the US in the first half of the year and are expected to reach 37% by 2030.

The bill also invests more than $60 billion in environmental justice priorities, including grants to the bloc to address disproportionate public health and environmental harms related to pollution and climate change in poor and marginalized communities.

Beverly Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, called the bill a step forward, but said she was concerned about tax credits for “polluting industries” such as coal, oil and gas. “We need stronger action to achieve environmental and climate justice for ourselves and future generations,” she said.

The bill would set a fee for excess methane emissions by oil and gas producers, and provide up to $850 million in funding for industry to monitor and reduce methane- melt.

The combination of tax incentives, subsidies and other investments in clean energy, transportation, energy storage, home electrification, agriculture, and manufacturing “makes this a great project.” real climate law,” said Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. “The planet is on fire. This is a huge progress. Let’s get the job done. “

But not all environmental groups celebrate.

The agreement includes promises by Schumer and other Democratic leaders to pursue enabling reforms that Manchin calls “essential to unlocking transmission and energy projects in the country,” including including a controversial natural gas pipeline planned in his home state and Virginia. More than 90% of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline has been completed, but the project has been delayed by court litigation and other issues.

The pipeline should be at the “top of the pile” for federal approval, Manchin said, and is a prime example of why reforms are needed to speed energy project approvals. Manchin, a longtime supporter of coal and other fossil fuels, said environmental assessments for such large projects should be completed within two years, rather than extending to 10 years. as is customary today.

“Other countries in the world – the developed countries – do it incredibly well, and they do it in a very short amount of time. We can do the same,” he said.

While permitting the reform will be considered under separate legislation, the budget agreement would require the Interior Department to provide at least 2 million acres of public land and 60 million acres of offshore waters in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska for lease. oil and gas every year. If the Home Office does not set a minimum rental amount, the department will not be authorized to approve any utility-scale renewable energy projects on public lands or waters.

Brett Hartl, director of government affairs at the Center for Biodiversity, an environmental group, said the request “is a climate suicide pact”.

“It is a failure to get stuck between renewable energy development and new oil and gas exploration,” Hartl said, adding that the new fossil fuel leases required by the bill would “blow-up.” ignite the flames of the climate catastrophe that is burning our country.”

But an oil industry group has called the bill punitive and inflationary.

“We are very concerned about the potential negative impact of this bill on US energy prices and competitiveness, especially in light of the global energy crisis and record high inflation, ” said Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Council on Exploration and Production, which represents independent oil. and natural gas companies.

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AP reporters Tom Krisher in Detroit and Drew Costley in Washington contributed to this story.

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