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What’s your reaction to the climate actions in the Inflation Reduction Act?

Borrego Springs Solar Plant generating power in the hot desert valley on June 1, 2016.
Kris Arciaga
Borrego Springs Solar Plant generating power in the hot desert valley on June 1, 2016.

On Tuesday, and after much negotiating, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. The bill includes more than $360 billion in federal spending to address climate change. We asked a number of San Diego climate activists and politicians their reaction to this groundbreaking climate legislation.

The political scientist David Victor is seen in this undated photo
Courtesy of Brookings Institution
The political scientist David Victor is seen in this undated photo

My general reaction is it's a big deal. It provides a lot more money, more than $300 billion for clean energy of various types. It's going to accelerate the reduction in emissions, in particular from the electric-power sector. One of the biggest impacts of this is going to be to enhance the deployment of renewable energy, also help keep some nuclear reactors open and provide a lot of other incentives.

So overall, it's a good thing for US. Climate policy. It doesn't completely transform the economy, but it's a helpful step in the right direction. The biggest production and emissions that are going to come from the bill are going to come from the electric-power sector, mainly because of enhanced deployment of renewable energy. I think one of the things that's very interesting about the bill is it also has money for rural communities and low-income communities that have historically often been hurt or neglected by energy projects. And if they can figure out how to spend that money, about $20 billion that could end over the long term be very important for those communities.

My big concern here is that we're not sending a stronger signal to industry about reducing emissions over time. And also, frankly, we're not investing enough in innovation and fundamental new ideas. We're mostly focusing all this money on deploying things that we already know how to deploy. And if we're going to make big reductions in emissions, we're going to have to also come up with a lot of new ideas and new technologies.
- Professor David Victor of UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and co-author of the new book Fixing the Climate.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Distinguished Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Distinguished Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences

It is easily the best climate action that has happened in a long time … and very timely too.

Of course, the climate crisis demands lot more than what IRA can offer. ... But we should [not] let the perfect become the enemy.

The program will yield a billion tons of reduction in CO2 by 2030. It also includes resilience building; creating new green jobs for the U.S. economy, etc. It also brings in methane emission reduction … the fastest way to bend the warming curve.
- Dr. Ram Ramanathan, renowned climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Nicole Capretz speaks at Politifest at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.
MILAN KOVACEVIC
Nicole Capretz speaks at Politifest at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.

We have never seen this kind of investment or commitment to a clean-energy economy. And probably most interestingly to families is that there are $80 billion in rebates available. So people can get thousands of dollars in rebates to switch out their dangerous gas appliances for clean electric heat pumps, for electric water heaters, for electric cooktops, there's a 30% tax rebate for solar panels and or battery storage systems. There's a $7,500 credit which will be available as a rebate at point of sale for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles.

I mean, it's truly incredible. And there's a significant investment in kind of the frontline communities, communities who are most impacted. There will be billions of dollars available in grants to make sure that the clean energy economy is benefiting everybody and that the communities most affected have opportunities to clean their neighborhoods first. It truly is an incredible moment in time and it's time for us to figure out how to get ready, how to get our systems and our infrastructure and our workforce ready for a different future.
- Nicole Capretz, Founder and CEO of the San Diego nonprofit Climate Action Campaign
California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, questions Attorney General Eric Holder on May 21, 2013.
Carolyn Kaster
California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, questions Attorney General Eric Holder on May 21, 2013.

This completely partisan bill isn't about inflation reduction and Democrats know it. It's about appeasing their progressive base by weaponizing the IRS, implementing the Green New Deal, stifling medical innovation, and raising taxes on more Americans than ever.
- Congressman Darrell Issa, (R-Alpine)

52191232548_9db990c0dc_b.jpg
Joe Orellana, San Diego 350
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San Diego 350
16-year-old Keala Minna-Choe is pictured on July 2, 2022 leading chants at a protest against the U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the EPA's power to regulate power plant emissions.

First of all, the IRA is a massive step forward. It's a real testament to the decades of organizing throughout the movement. However, it's also really important for me to recognize, and something that I've been feeling is there's a lot of deficits that this bill has. This is hundreds of billions of dollars less than the initial ask in what we were initially promised, along with having a lot of handouts to the fossil fuel industry. And while this may be a great step forward in helping the climate crisis, I really fear for the future of my generation. And personally, I don't want to grow up in a world where climate action is too little and too late.

Currently, something that I'm working on with the UC oil campaign is specifically targeting oil drilling and oil extraction, which is a large contributor to the climate crisis. And so something that we're asking is to stop putting leases on drilling in federal lands. Biden is approving a lot of new leases on federal land. And that's why, because of this bill, we're actually demanding him to declare a climate emergency because that will allow him to use his executive authority to take more action on our climate crisis and in specific like stop drilling, along with taking other action in terms of helping environmental, justice communities and scaling up the timeline for climate action.
- 16-year-old Keala Minna-Choe, board member at San Diego 350 and the Youth v. Oil campaign lead for Youth for Climate.

Congressman Scott Peters in a photo from his campaign website.
Congressman Scott Peters in a photo from his campaign website.

I would say that this is what legislation is. Sometimes you have to make compromises, like I think they probably did with Vermont Senator Joe Manchin to get a bill. I would also point out that the bill would cut 24 tons of emissions for every ton resulting from its oil and gas leasing provisions.

So it's probably, I think it is definitively, well worth it to accept a few oil and gas provisions to pass what will be the largest climate bill in history and a huge net win. No legislation is perfect, but this really advances the ball quite a bit.
- Congressman Scott Peters of California's 52nd Congressional District

We’d like to hear what you think about the new Inflation Reduction act, and its investment in climate action. Share your thoughts below.

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