The Inflation Reduction Act is a clean energy plan that New York needs
Just over one year ago, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. Since then, we have begun to see this historic affordable clean energy plan go into effect and our clean energy future take shape. The IRA is the most significant legislation and, at $369 billion, the largest investment to curb climate change in U.S. history, and that is great news for Brooklyn and Queens.
In New York, the rise in extreme weather events, like Hurricane Ida and Superstorm Sandy, threaten our shore communities as well as inland towns with an increased risk of flooding. At the same time, the earth is experiencing its hottest summer on record. This extreme heat in and of itself puts countless lives at risk, while the consequences are compounded with massive wildfires, bigger storm surges and once-in-a-century droughts. Make no mistake, climate-related disasters are now a near-constant threat to the health and homes of millions of people. Thankfully, the benefits coming from the IRA will help reduce carbon pollution and create a cleaner environment and safer, healthier communities throughout New York and the country.
Brooklyn and Queens are inundated with the effects of the climate crisis, but the IRA is also presenting our communities with great opportunity. For example, the Ravenswood Generating Station is the largest gas-fired power plant in the city and its pollution has fueled the asthma epidemic in the surrounding neighborhoods for decades. This is why a plan is underway to transform Ravenswood from a fossil-fuel burning power plant that pollutes our air to one that runs on renewable energy. What has become known as Renewable Ravenswood – introduced by Rise Light & Power, the current owner of the plant – is possible only because of New York State’s ambitious climate law and, critically, thanks to President Biden’s clean energy plan put forth in the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The investments put forth by the IRA are necessary to stem the tide of climate change, and the crisis could not be more urgent.
The good news is, New York State has already seen $11.7 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy investments and an additional 4,300 new clean energy jobs across our state. But we need to ensure the state continues getting these investments and that communities overburdened by environmental hazards like Bushwick and Woodside in Brooklyn and Queens reap the benefits. How does this happen? It’s simple: private companies, non-profits, and our city and state governments need to leverage the available tax credits and rebates, of which there are many.
Individuals must also step up to take advantage of the benefits in the IRA, including tax credits to seal and insulate our homes for services such as rooftop solar and battery storage. Renters and homeowners alike can benefit from many of the rebates, like those to help purchase new appliances, such as highly efficient water heat pumps, induction stoves, air heat pumps. These upgrades will reduce the amount of electricity renters and homeowners use and help lower their energy bills. New Yorkers can refer to this IRA Consumer Benefits Guide to help them get started: https://nylcvef.org/ira-guide/.
One year ago, we did something that so many, for so long, thought was impossible. We finally took a major national step forward in the fight against climate change. Every new wind turbine built, every solar panel installed, and every new electric car or truck that rolls off the manufacturing line will power a better future for New York. Now it’s up to us to make sure this is only the beginning.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez represents New York’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Julie Tighe is the President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
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