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As Biden celebrates climate funding, Republicans eye the money

IRS, EPA and USDA have yet to deploy the money

President Joe Biden is marking the anniversary of the Aug. 16, 2022, enactment of his climate, tax and health bill. He spoke Tuesday at Ingeteam Inc., an electrical equipment manufacturer, in Milwaukee.
President Joe Biden is marking the anniversary of the Aug. 16, 2022, enactment of his climate, tax and health bill. He spoke Tuesday at Ingeteam Inc., an electrical equipment manufacturer, in Milwaukee. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is marking the first anniversary of its climate, tax and health care package on Wednesday as House Republicans are doing their best to gouge out big chunks of the funding provided by the bill but remains unspent.

The law had some experts saying the U.S. would move within “striking distance” of Biden’s goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 from 2005 levels thanks in part to $270 billion in clean energy tax credits and a fee on methane emissions from oil and gas sites.

One year since, the administration is trying to steer the funding to its intended uses, an effort that House Republicans are trying to obstruct in their fiscal 2024 spending bills.

The EPA and the IRS are responsible for two of the major climate parts of the bill.

The IRS’ task is to apply energy-related tax credits and deductions, which form the largest climate portion of the bill and total nearly $260 billion in credits to both corporations and consumers. The IRS has issued guidance on a number of subsidies included in the law, including on a credit for as much as $7,500 for the purchase of electric vehicles, which was published in April. 

The law also provides tax credits for technologies in the early stages which the government hopes to support, including direct air capture and sustainable aviation fuel.

The nonpartisan business group E2 says 210 clean energy and zero emissions vehicle projects have been announced in the year since Biden signed the law. If completed, the projects would create a total of 74,000 jobs from more than $86 billion in investments. 

The EPA announced two grant competitions in February to help award $27 billion from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The goal is to fund clean energy technologies that struggled to find traditional financing.

  • The EPA’s first competition would award $20 billion to nonprofit entities to partner with green banks, credit unions, housing finance agencies and others to invest in projects that reduce pollution and lower energy costs for households. The $20 billion would be broken into $14 billion fund for clean technology projects and $6 billion fund for developing clean energy in disadvantaged communities.
  • The second competition, known as the Solar for All fund, will provide a total of $7 billion in grants to help states, tribes, municipalities and eligible nonprofit entities deploy residential solar, again in communities disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.

The grant competitions run through this fall, and provisions in the law give the administration until September 2024 to distribute the money. However Republicans who opposed the funds creation included provisions rescinding nearly $19 billion allocated for the fund in fiscal 2024 appropriations bills.

The Agriculture Department has its own chunk of climate money to push out the door. The department said in May that it would make nearly $11 billion in grants and loans available. 

  • The funding includes $9.7 billion to help rural electric cooperatives meet the cost to transition from fossil fuel sources to climate-friendly operations using zero-emission systems or carbon capture systems. The department began taking letters of interest on July 31 for projects to be funded through loans, grants or loan modifications.
  • Another $1 billion in loans will be used for projects by corporations, municipalities, tribes and other entities. The program limits loans to $100 million and up to 40 percent of the amount could be forgiven. The department began taking letters of interest in June.

Ellyn Ferguson and Mike Magner contributed to this report.

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