Explainer: Wait, There's a Climate Bill Now?

By Wild Elements

3 min read

On July 28, 2022, a new Senate bill was proposed that could “transform how the country produces energy and upend the auto industry,” according to the Washington Post. This is amazing news, but like DIY crochet crop tops and plot points in Pretty Little Liars, the bill has a few holes. 

That’s okay. 

A sweeping government proposal about the environment is a massive step in the right direction! It’s happening because we’ve raised our voices and demanded change on behalf of the planet. Because of that, it warrants real consideration from lawmakers and also from concerned citizens. (Hint: that’s you!) 

Here's a breakdown of the bill, and a few ways you can get involved from wherever you are, whether it’s your favorite iced coffee shop, your best friend’s summer house, or the comfort of your own couch. 

WHAT’S THIS BILL CALLED?

Formally, it’s called The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and it was a joint proposal from Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat—Nevada) and Senator Joe Manchin III (Democrat—West Virginia). Currently, the news (and Twitter) is calling it “the climate deal” or “the climate bill” because it’s trying to create the biggest ever piece of environmental legislation in American history.

WHAT’S THE GOOD STUFF IN THE BILL?
There is so much good stuff! That includes…

  •   A pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40%
  •   $60 billion towards environmental justice priorities, including grants for disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by climate disasters and pollution
  •   $40 billion in tax credits for clean energy manufacturing
  •   $27 billion for a “green bank,” which combines public and private funds to build clean infrastructure and energy facilities
  • $20 billion to cut agricultural emissions from farming and ranching (an especially big deal since agriculture generates about 11% of US greenhouse gas emissions)
  •   A methane emissions reduction program to reward fossil fuel companies cutting down on their carbon footprint, and to penalize ones that aren’t
  •   A tax credit ($4000—$7500) for many who purchase electric cars
  •   Financial aid to make heating and cooling more efficient in residential buildings nationwide
  •   Further tax credits for biodiesel

OKAY, BUT YOU MENTIONED HOLES…
We did. Those biodiesel credits we just referenced are a great example. Biofuel is gas or oil made from plants. That’s great for carbon emissions, but also worrisome, because biodiesel often comes from soybean and palm oil—two crops that are notoriously overharvested, which can lead to soil stress, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.

There’s also a provision in the bill to allow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and to make 2 million acres of land available for fossil fuel extraction in exchange for a federal “right of way” on clean energy facilities like wind and solar power.

SHOULD WE SUPPORT THIS BILL?
Absolutely.

In the words of Minnesota Senator Tina Smith (Democrat—Minnesota), ““This is the most significant action we’ve taken on climate, [and] that we will take on climate and clean energy, ever.” It directly addresses the link between people and planetary health, and it puts $369 billion towards doable solutions, with the end goal to reduce American fossil fuel dependence while helping to regenerate our air, water, soil, and biodiversity. It is not perfect. It is also a massive push towards systemic change.

HOW DO I SUPPORT THIS BILL?
Great question! The Senate could vote on this bill as early as August 2022. You can call or email your senator—whether they’re Democrat, Republican, or alien—and voice your support for the bill.

CAN YOU JUST TELL ME WHAT TO SAY?
Even better—we’ve got a form you can fill out that will go directly to your senator. Get it here. 

ADVOCACY MAKES ME HUNGRY.
How about some vegan bacon?