The Inflation Reduction Act and Iowa
IEC joins those in Iowa and around the nation in celebrating this week’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Though the name wouldn’t seem to align with environmental efforts, this historic legislation includes the largest-ever package addressing climate issues through clean energy investment, renewable energy tax credits, and much more.
The bill is complex and far-reaching, and many – including our staff – are digging into the specifics. But here’s what we know at the outset:
• The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will address record inflation by paying down our national debt, lowering energy costs, and lowering healthcare costs.
• The Act makes progress on climate goals, including reducing emissions by 40% by the year 2030 and will go a long way to help the U.S. in international climate negotiations.
• The Act centers decreasing dependence on foreign energy and supply chains as a matter of national security and increasing U.S. energy production and jobs.
So what does it do for Iowa?
Iowans will benefit from many of the Act’s energy security and climate change programs in the next decade. First up are tax credits. The Inflation Reduction Act will return the wind and solar tax credits for both utilities and consumers for 10 years; projects that invest in low-income or tribal communities could receive an enhanced credit. Consumers will now be able to get credits for 30% of expenses for rooftop solar, heat pumps, and small wind energy systems through 2032. “These tax credits can be more easily used by nonprofits like cities, counties, and rural electric cooperatives which will be game-changing for rural ratepayers,” says Kerri Johannsen, IEC’s Energy Program Director.
The IRA also provides a stand-alone storage tax credit for the first time ever. Combined with the other tax credits, this provides a major incentive for U.S. manufacturing of these technologies and benefits accruing to coal plant and disadvantaged communities.
Iowans can also expect to access some incredible EV tax credits: $7,500 for a new car, and $4,000 for a used car with income-based caps to claim these. It also provides incentives to U.S. manufacturers, with billons allocated to build new clean-vehicle manufacturing facilities.
Energy efficiency and building decarbonization programs will also help to drive down energy costs for the average Iowan, helping to ease the pressure on pocketbooks around the state. The IRA will provide $9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs to pay for electric appliances such as heat pumps, or energy efficiency retrofits.
"The jobs and economic development that will come from this bill are substantial, exciting, and game-changing. They will bolster Iowa's manufacturing economy AND our farm economy, creating the good jobs that will see us through the next decade," says Johannsen.
The bill still must pass through the House and be signed by President Biden, which is anticipated to happen in the coming weeks. Next, state officials, leadership, and others will begin the work of operationalizing the many facets of the bill for local communities and individuals. Groups like IEC and others will help move the benefits of this legislation forward to improve the livelihoods of all Iowans.
Some have spoken out against the more negative elements of the legislation, such as allowing oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands. Like many other public policy initiatives both federally and locally, IEC understands that compromise is a key part of legislative work. Not everything we want is included, and some things we don't like remain in effect. However, we believe it is a solid start. Says Johannsen, "Environmental organizations like ours will make every effort to advance the good parts of this bill and address what still needs work. We're excited to add these tools to our toolkit to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gases, improve our climate, create good local jobs, and make Iowa a better place to live, work, and explore."
IEC report makes recommendations to improve water quality monitoring
IEC published a report last month outlining the nearly $100 million in public tax dollars allocated by Iowa legislators since 2013 for water quality improvements for Iowa.
Yet the projects receiving funding are not appropriately monitored for outcomes or improvements in the water they are designed to treat.
Read more about IEC's suggested improvements to water quality monitoring programs in Iowa.
The real reason the Midwest is facing potential blackouts this summer
The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be another one for the record books in terms of heat. We've seen more demand for air conditioning and further strain on electricity resources.
At every opportunity, fossil fuel companies claim that renewables are to blame for this strain and coal is needed for reliability. This is not true.
A recent IEC whitepaper examines how a transition to clean energy can save Iowans money while improving reliability and grid resilience to
IEC launches new fundraiser, seeks artist submissions for Green Gala
The Iowa Environmental Council has created the Green Gala & Art Auction, a time for the community to come together in support of a just, healthy, and sustainable future for all Iowans through art!
The Green Gala & Art Auction fundraiser will take place on Thursday, November 10, at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines, with virtual bidding opportunities available.
IEC is inviting artists of all types to submit pieces for the event. Encourage an artist in your life to submit a piece by October 10. Get more information and details.
Upcoming Environmental Events
8/11 - Understanding Racism and Implicit Bias in Building Decarbonization, Online
8/12 - River Run Garbage Grab, Des Moines
8/12 - PFI's Livestock on the Land Screening, Decorah
8/13 - Blue Water Festival, Okoboji
8/15 - Speaking of... Greenwashing, Online
8/16 - Grass Identification Workshop, Honey Creek
8/18 - 2022 UPCYCLE, Des Moines
8/18 - Codfish Hollow Field Trip, Maquoketa
8/18 - Doolittle Prairie Walk, Story County
8/20 - Yeader Creek Clean Up, Des Moines
8/20 - SILT Small Farm Summer: Bee Haven Farm, Solon
8/22 - IWRC Community Training: Composting, Recycling, PFAS, Winterset
8/25 - IWRC Community Training: Composting, Recycling, PFAS, Centerville
8/26 - Agroforestry Farm Crawl Bus Tour, Johnson and Linn Counties
9/7 - Save the Date - IEC's End of Summer Beach Bash
9/11 - IEC's Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Waukee & Virtual
9/15 - IEC's 2022 Condition of the State Report, Online
Organizational Member News
This is climate change - American Rivers
In 2020, the U.S. saw an average annual loss of $32 billion from flooding, and that cost could rise by up to $41 billion by 2050, according to a study published in Nature.
As a nation, we need a fundamental shift in how we manage our floodplains if we want to help communities increase resilience to flooding. For decades we’ve developed our rivers and floodplains as if the next flood were a possibility, rather than an inevitability.
Read more about American Rivers' call to protect and restore natural floodplains to protect vulnerable communities.
Iowa is looking a hefty hike in green jobs
Working Nation recently profiled Iowa as part of its Green Jobs Now series, which showcases job potential within the green economy. The recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which funds new infrastructure with climate in mind, brings the potential for massive job creation in this field.
The Iowa profile explores renewable energy jobs such as wind turbine construction and maintenance, but also discusses water protection and conservation opportunities for Iowa workers and features many familiar faces in Iowa's conservation, water quality, sustainability, and clean energy spaces.