Congress can help address the climate crisis by passing the Inflation Reduction Act

August 5, 2022 5:49 am
A gas flare at an oil refinery at dusk

Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act are projected to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030. (Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

Congress is facing the opportunity of a generation to help bolster the economy of New Hampshire and the country while simultaneously addressing the existential threat of our lifetimes – climate change.

The Inflation Reduction Act, under consideration in the Senate, would be the most significant achievement ever by Congress to address the climate crisis, and comes at a time when the nation sorely needs the economic boost it would provide.

The bill includes a suite of smart incentives and investments that would both make meaningful progress toward our climate goals and unlock the promise of innovative, cleaner industries and the jobs that come with them. If approved, these provisions are projected to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030, putting us within reach of our climate goals and our international commitments.

The bill also would help address the disproportionate effects air pollution and climate change have on historically marginalized or underserved communities by improving air quality, lowering energy costs, and expanding access to clean energy in frontline communities.

Recent research found that, nationally, these investments would support more than 600,000 jobs every year for 10 years. The study conducted by BW Research Partnership found for New Hampshire over 4,000 jobs would be supported annually for 10 years across the Granite State. Federal investments such as clean energy tax credits, infrastructure investments, transportation and building electrification investments, and reforestation and conservation grants would support skilled jobs that will help diversify economic opportunities.

This important economic research clearly shows the value to New Hampshire’s economy and workforce of accelerating clean energy and climate investments. The depth of impact that this critical investment can have across our economy is striking – with almost all sectors being positively impacted.

In New Hampshire, clean power incentives and investments will create employment opportunities that trend toward jobs in construction and professional services industries, with benefits rippling throughout the supply chain and broadly across the economy. Acceleration of clean energy and greater energy efficiency will help diversify our energy mix, contributing to greater energy security, moderating price spikes, and avoiding supply disruptions.

In addition, investments in revitalizing forests will create thousands of jobs and support our rural communities while absorbing more carbon from the air, protecting our drinking water and natural habitat. A thriving forest-based economy is essential to New Hampshire’s identity.

We need to quickly transition to renewables and reduce our dependency on the volatility of fossil fuel markets and invest in our natural systems to be more resilient and help reduce emissions. New Hampshire can be a leader in implementing these climate-smart policies that will benefit our local economies

Approval of the Inflation Reduction Act will put us on the pathway to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This bill represents the best chance we’ve had in decades to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions. Any legislation is the product of negotiation and this one is no exception, but on balance there is no doubt that the climate and clean energy provisions included in the bill promise to accelerate equitable clean energy transitions and drive down emissions across the country.

When combined with the long-term benefits for jobs, energy security, and community resilience, it becomes clear these investments are the right choice to put us on a path toward a brighter future.

Now is not the time to let up. We must urge Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to pass this bill as quickly as possible.

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Jim O'Brien
Jim O'Brien

Jim O’Brien is the director of external affairs for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire and resides in Hopkinton.