Guest columnist Greg Pagliuzza: Although imperfect, climate bill is crucial for America's future
God made carbon. Carbon is good. It is essential for life as we know it, including ourselves. Yet, we suffer when too much of it lands in our atmosphere as it is now. It is putting us on a destructive path that, if not addressed soon, will lead to the devastation of God's creation.
Over the weekend, the Senate passed historic legislation entitled "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA)" that will address climate change, the economy and socio-economic disparity simultaneously.
This is important because we are confronted with multiple crises at once: inflation, increasing interest rates, increasing atmospheric carbon, wildfires, energy insecurity, an ever-increasing federal deficit and high energy costs. This legislation addresses each of these with a long-term view and invests in the future by decarbonizing all sectors of the economy.
It will do this by providing a path to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. This represents a significant step for the U.S. to achieve the goal set out in the Paris climate agreement of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees C.
It also supports the U.S.'s goal to increase our energy security without abandoning the fossil fuel communities that have powered America for the last century and a half. It supports a gradual transition away from fossil fuels by making extraction less polluting while supporting technologies which removes excess carbon from the atmosphere. It supports workers by permanently funding the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, making sure that those who took care of us for so long will be taken care of themselves.
Importantly for budget hawks, this bill will actually reduce the deficit. It does this mainly through increased taxes on corporations that make over $1 billion in profit and are paying less than 15% in federal income tax on those profits. The net impact of this legislation is projected to reduce the federal deficit by $288 billion over 10 years.
This bill will touch every part of American life. It impacts both farm and city, both waterways and desert and the pollution above and below the ground. It works to support farmers, the manufacturing industry, American jobs and low- and middle-income earners. It uses current and developing technologies to address climate change. This will support workers by bringing jobs back to the U.S. from overseas through tax credits, grants and low interest federal loans.
This bill will also increase our energy security by lessening our dependence on foreign governments. If you've filled up your gas tank in the last six months, you know firsthand how powerless it can feel to be at the mercy of the whims of dictators and autocrats. By investing in home grown energy, this bill puts America to work providing for our own energy needs, creating millions of family-sustaining jobs along the way.
Of course, the IRA is not a perfect bill. Nobody got everything they want. When writing and passing laws, especially laws this consequential, compromise is the cost of progress. This is a compromise that is well worth making.
Congratulations to all those who kept pursuing action on climate change, even as the news continued to turn from bad to worse. They know what the rest of us must learn and quickly: doing nothing is not an option. The time is running out to save God's creation and prevent the unnecessary suffering of millions around the world. We need to act now.
Despite the defeat of prior versions, this legislation has a great chance of being approved by the House, potentially as early as Fridayand the Senate. President Biden has asked the legislators to "put politics aside, get it done". He will sign it.
Contact your legislators in the House to assure they vote for its approval. The phone number to the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.
Failure to pass this legislation is simply not an option.
• Greg Pagliuzza, of Chicago, is a retired medical professional with a financial background and an intimate knowledge of the impact of climate change on health and well-being.