Climate Corner: Leading the charge
Jan 29, 2024
President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law on Aug. 16, 2022. It’s the largest, most ambitious investment in climate and energy in American history. This law will help the United States meet its climate goals, including reducing carbon emissions by about 40% by 2030. The IRA supports a combination of grants, loans, rebates, tax provisions and other incentives to accelerate deployment of clean energy, clean vehicles, clean buildings and clean manufacturing. In addition, it strengthens energy security, creates good paying jobs, reduces energy and health care costs and even makes the tax code fairer. This law is already having a significant impact on American workers and families. According to a White House statement released Aug. 16, 2023, outside groups estimate the IRA’s clean energy and climate provisions had already created more than 170,000 clean energy jobs. And it is projected to create more than 1.5 million additional jobs over the next decade. In the last year alone, companies have announced over $110 billion in clean energy manufacturing investments. Over a billion dollars has already been awarded to help communities provide protection from the disastrous impacts of climate change and become more resilient. Over the next seven years, twice as much wind, solar and battery deployment is expected as there would have been without the IRA.
Rewiring America, a nonprofit organization focused on helping electrify homes, businesses and communities, states it “… helps Americans save money, tackle nationwide emissions goals, improve health and build the next generation of the clean energy workforce.” According to their website, the three biggest contributors to a household’s emissions are a vehicle (50%), home heating (25%) and water heating (10%). Electrifying those three will make a huge impact on your household’s “carbon footprint”. Rewiring America’s website provides lots of helpful information as well as useful tools such as the e-book “Electrify Everything in Your Home.” This guide provides blueprints and plans for homeowners and renters to go electric as well as information on available rebates, tax credits and financing options. Also provided is an online Household Calculator to estimate the cost savings available from lower operating costs for using newer, more efficient electric appliances. Their mission is to replace the one billion fossil fuel powered appliances and machines in the country with electrically powered ones. Rewiring America acknowledges that replacing a home’s fossil fueled appliances all at once could be expensive and not an option for all households. Their recommendation is to replace fossil fueled machines with electric versions as they break down. This may take several years. Even if your utility uses fossil fuel to generate electricity, it’s important to make this switch because as power plants are replaced with renewables, emissions will decrease. But, this won’t happen if you’ve installed another fossil fueled machine in your house.
Forty years ago, when winters were more frigid and snow did not melt until spring, our household was always toasty thanks to a shallow gas well on our farm in southwestern Pennsylvania. However, I realize it is probably responsible for our daughter’s asthma and need for an inhaler. The fact that global warming, caused by human use of fossil fuels, was causing, not only a climate crisis, but also health issues, was not something which Americans were made aware of at that time. These facts were known only to the scientific community and the fossil fuel corporations. Eventually the scientists sounded the alarm for the general public while the fossil fuel industry chose to spread intentional disinformation and discredit their warnings. My household witnessed the gas industry expansion and the horrors of horizontal fracturing (fracking). We watched as the rural undeveloped countryside, where we grew most of the food we ate, raised sheep and children, began to transform into an industrial zone. This was due to well drilling, gas flaring and heavy vehicle traffic at all hours of the day and night. We escaped to Wood County and, albeit unintentionally, purchased our first ever all electric home. We excitedly installed solar panels and a Level 2 wall charger in the garage for a future electric vehicle (EV). Recently, an EV purchase was made with an amazing $7,500 discount off the price thanks to the IRA. It is exciting to be part of the solution.
Another world is possible! And for the sake of our grandchildrens’ grandchildren, it is absolutely necessary.
Giulia Mannarino, of Belleville, is a grandmother concerned for her granddaughter’s future, and vice president of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.