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Climate Action Back in Motion

Just when our best chance at federal climate legislation seemed dead, suddenly a major clean energy deal emerged from the grave last week following closely held negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Negotiations between the two men remained closely held right up to the surprise announcement that stunned even the White House. The bill could pass both chambers and reach President Biden’s desk by the end of next week, and it will be a sprint to reach that finish line before members leave Washington for the August recess.

The bill’s clean energy and transportation provisions (PDF) are the largest climate investment in American history, at $385 billion. Elements include consumer tax credits for electric vehicle purchases, credits for making homes more energy efficient, boosts to domestic clean energy manufacturing, and community solar power for underserved communities. The bill will also extend Affordable Care Act subsidies, allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time, and reduce the budget deficit by around $300 billion.

The immediate reaction to the shocking agreement could best be summed up this way: “Holy —-!” That was the initial unguarded comment from both Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs with the national League of Conservation Voters. 

“Wow! We are so excited that Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin have reached a deal that includes climate investments to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030, and we are eager to see the details,” said Sittenfeld once she had time to collect her thoughts. “As families struggle with high gas prices, inflation, and devastating climate-fueled extreme weather, this is such welcome news. This is it: the time for the Senate to pass cost-saving legislation that makes overdue investments in climate and clean energy, improves our energy security, creates good jobs, and builds a more affordable, healthy, just, and equitable future is right now.” 

“With over $300 billion in clean energy, clean transportation, and energy efficiency investments, the Inflation Reduction Act is the biggest climate bill in American history. It will tackle our climate crisis with justice for the hardest-hit communities, while saving people money and creating the American-made solar, wind, battery storage, and clean car manufacturing and installation jobs of the future,” said Montravias King, our Clean Energy Campaigns Director.

King added, “This is far from the end of the fight, but it is a huge new beginning for climate justice. We thank Senators Schumer and Manchin for coming to a strong deal for our people that will yield a 40% national carbon reduction by the end of the decade. We urge every member of our congressional delegation to support it with haste to protect the most vulnerable North Carolinians from further climate impacts.”

Environmental and climate advocates agree on the need for swift action to approve the newly revived action package, before a new snag can develop. Dustin Ingalls, our Director of Strategic Communications, says, “In the midst of record heat waves and an ongoing hurricane and wildfire season, we have no time to waste! We need every single vote to pass it through the 50-50 Senate before the end of August.” 

Tell your senators and representative to pass this landmark bill!

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