Senate Democrats on Sunday delivered President Joe Biden a major victory in the fight against climate change, passing a bill that will direct hundreds of billions of dollars into clean energy sources and accelerate the United States' move away from fossil fuels.
The Inflation Reduction Act passed on a 51-50 party-line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
The bill includes a $369 billion clean energy and climate package to speed up emission reductions and put the nation on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, helping US move close to the target Biden set under the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce that pollution by at least half by that time.
“The Senate is making history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “it will kick start the era of affordable clean energy in America.” The bill contains “the boldest clean energy package in American history” to fight climate change and lower consumer costs for electricity, he added.
The act aims to cut carbon emissions, encourage the use of green energy, lower the cost of prescription drugs for the elderly, and enforce tax laws more strictly for corporations and the wealthy.
“It’s a landmark achievement,” Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of American Council on Renewable Energy, said in an interview. “We have never had policy in the United States that was actually geared to drive the transition to clean energy and address the climate crisis. And we’re looking now at a measure that is up to the task.”
According to analysis from the American Clean Power Association, the bill would add up to an additional 550 GW of electricity from wind, solar, and other clean power sources, more than tripling the nation's clean power production. The industry trade group estimates that it’s enough to supply 110 million homes.
Rhodium Group, an energy and climate analytics company, estimated that the bill would reduce the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 31% to 44% below 2005 levels in 2030. The current policies expect to drop 24% to 35% of carbon emissions by 2030.
Also, the bill would help to create new jobs in green energy sectors, changing parts of the US economy dramatically, said Robbie Orvis, senior director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan energy and climate policy think tank.