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Keeping up the momentum: Opportunities for bipartisan policymaking on the heels of the Inflation Reduction Act

August 15, 2023

A year ago this week, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. This groundbreaking law, the most significant action the U.S. has taken to address the climate challenge, is bringing the United States closer to achieving its climate goals under the Paris Agreement while spurring significant domestic investment in the clean energy technologies necessary to reach these goals. Building upon the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Energy Act of 2020, the Inflation Reduction Act has positioned the United States to lead in advancing climate solutions. 

Following nearly a decade of relative inactivity, the Energy Act of 2020, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022 combined to change the trajectory for the United States on climate. However, as our report “Closing the Gap: Delivering on the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution” notes, more needs to be done to meet our climate commitments and build upon these successes. While the Biden Administration has existing authority to narrow this gap, there are clear opportunities on the horizon to continue to make progress on climate policy, and in many instances to do so with bipartisan support.  

Earlier this year, Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the EPW Committee, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing, and passing in the Senate, the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023. This bill would make much needed improvements to the regulation of nuclear energy in the United States and help unleash the potential to deploy advanced nuclear reactors domestically. We have already seen the House of Representatives move to take similar action in a similar package of legislation with strong bipartisan support.  

We have also seen strong bipartisan support for addressing industrial emissions. As noted in the Closing the Gap report, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector is one of the most actionable ways to reduce these emissions domestically, along with reductions in power sector, transportation, and oil and gas production emissions. We need additional support for industrial decarbonization to ensure the effective development, demonstration, and deployment of the technologies that will achieve these goals, and Senate appropriators have recommended that a new Industrial Emissions Coordination program be established at the Department of Energy (DOE) and that DOE develop a plan to implement the Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap.  

The importance of federal leadership in this space was underscored at the recent Clean Industrial Summit, cohosted by CATF, by DOE Under Secretary for Infrastructure David Crane when he noted that “industrial policy is no longer a dirty word, it’s what works in our commercial landscape” and that “government is committed to overcoming the obstacles” presented in difficult to decarbonize sectors.  

There also exist legislative opportunities over the horizon that will be critical to advancing clean energy technologies and hitting our national targets. Critical clean energy programs in the Energy Act of 2020, which are largely funded through the IIJA, are set to expire in 2025. This offers Congress the opportunity to update these programs and create new opportunities for research, development, and demonstration of the next generation of clean energy technologies like advanced nuclear energy, superhot rock energy, zero-carbon fuels, carbon capture and storage, and fusion. 2025 will also see the expiration of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, setting the stage for further legislation around how best to incentivize the technologies necessary to decarbonize our economy. And of course, during discussions around the Farm Bill, annual appropriations, and other legislation that may come before Congress, it remains imperative that investments made in IRA be protected. 

A year out from IRA passage, it’s important to take stock of the progress we have made to date. If we are to be successful in meeting our climate commitments and truly facing up to the climate challenge, we must protect the progress we have made and continue to build upon our success.  

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