Climate Action

United States passes first major climate legislation in recent history.


Photo courtesy of Ceinturion.

A solar farm in Serpa, Portugal.

Gabriel Diaz, News Editor

After months of fierce debating and compromising, the Senate floor stood silent, awaiting the results of one of the most important votes in the last few years. With a divided Senate composed of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the Democrats had no votes to spare, and they fought hard to get all their members to vote along with them. At 3:17 pm on August 7, 2022, Vice-President Kamala Harris announced the results of the votes to be 50 yeas and 50 nays, also announcing that her tie-breaking vote would go to the yeas. The Senate floor erupted in cheers; it had taken months, but at long last they had finally done it.

“This bill makes the largest investment ever in combating the existential crisis of climate change,” President Joe Biden said in a statement after the passage of the bill in the Senate. 

The Inflation Reduction Act is one of the largest and most important climate bills ever passed by the US Congress. It includes almost $400 billion in tax incentives for transitioning to renewable energy. Among those, incentives for electric cars manufactured in the US, spending in the creation of clean energy technologies, facilitating homeowners’ transition into adopting clean energy for their homes, among many others. 

“It’ll be incredibly effective, and something that was long overdue,” Suncoast AP Environmental Science Teacher Richard Harr said. “Not only will it get us to where we need quicker, maybe as early as next decade, but it also includes technology incentives for green energy,” Harr said. 

The bill also includes provisions that allow drug prices to be regulated, one of the most prominent being a price cap of $35 on insulin for Medicare users. The bill also places a minimum corporate tax rate of 15 percent, something that had been long sought after by the Democratic Party. 

This bill caps seniors’ out of pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2000 per year,” Biden said.

Among the many provisions put forth in this bill, there are many tax incentives for renewable energies. Among them, incentives for electric trucks, electric vehicles manufactured in the US, and incentives for the research and development of green technologies. The bill will make the US one of the world’s leaders in development of clean technology, one of Biden’s campaign promises. 

“It’s about time! We should have been leading all along,” Harr said.

 The US is the world’s second largest polluter, just behind China. The Biden administration promised to lay the groundwork to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent from the 2005 peak levels by 2030. Projections made by several organizations, such as Resources for the future, Evergreen Action, and the Biden administration itself, predict that the Inflation Reduction Act will help reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030. While it is still short of the original goal, it is the most progress made in recent history. 

“Now we have, once again, become the leader of the world,” Harr said. 

When it comes to climate policy, the United States had been lagging behind most of the civilized world for a long time. Several metrics including the Climate Change Performance Index and the Environmental Protection Index rank the US lower than a lot of European nations for climate policy, part of this due to the lack of major legislation. Now that there is major climate legislation, it will help the US become one of the world leaders in environmental protection and climate change action. 

“I think once you get this ball rolling, we will get there very quickly,” Harr said.

With the passage of a major climate legislation, the US is set to become a leader in the fight for climate change worldwide. However, only time will tell how effective the Inflation Reduction Act will be, the only certainty for now is that the US has taken major action on climate for the first time in recent history.