During a year that is seeing worldwide unusually heavy rainfall and flooding, months of arid conditions and fires, and more triple digit days than usual, it couldn’t be more necessary for Congress to take a major first step toward slowing the increasingly threatening global climate change in this country. And it has.
Nevermind the legislation’s title, the Inflation Reduction Act, at its core to the benefit of the planet and thus mankind, is the breadth of incentives to encourage households to use less energy-wasting components and vehicles, and for utility companies to add to the size of their green energy portfolios.
More generous tax rebates encourage solar-to-electricity collectors and wind power generation, and heat pumps in place of less efficient heating and air-conditioning systems. Incentives have already launched the popular incorporation of solar power generation in homes and businesses, and this legislation’s expanded incentives will take that fast revolution even further.
Amounts are small – in no way will the credits cover any full cost – but they are a nudge in the right direction. The cap on tax credits will be lifted, too.
Those who shaped the legislation were very conscious to encourage not just the wealthy to move from high-maintenance fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles.
People from a range of income levels will be more likely to consider an EV. Used EVs at least 2 years old and selling for less than $25,000 will qualify for a $4,000 credit.
For those with incomes up to $150,000 for an individual and $300,000 jointly, a credit as high as $7,500 is provided. But even then, the maximum price of a vehicle cannot exceed $55,000 and $80,000 for SUVs and vans.
Eligible EVs must be assembled in the United States, an effort to strengthen employment and technological development at home. Choices will be somewhat reduced, but the requirements are worthwhile. In recent years, Americans have realized that too much of what they rely on is being created overseas, particularly in Asia.
More EV charging stations, which will make longer distance travel less stressful, are part of this legislation and the previously approved infrastructure bill. Expect faster and more universal charging plug-in technology, as well.
Another component of let’s-go-easier-on-the-planet that will be applied locally on industry is increasing fines for methane leaks from natural gas extraction infrastructure. Methane is particularly harmful to the ozone. Natural gas brought to the surface travels in piping, and pipes leak. Ask any plumber. Northwest New Mexico and Southwest Colorado are known methane hotspots.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes landmark health care benefit expansions, as well as energy-reduction incentives. But right now, in this place, we are praising its energy-related components. It is a significant transition. Here is hoping that there will additional legislation addressing the warmer, less predictable and more extreme climate that will likely increase.