Colorado River - image: Sylvi, cc 2.0

The Inflation Reduction Act passed through Congress and was just signed into law by President Joe Biden. One of the biggest climate change bills ever to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives, the impact will be felt across the country. In Nevada, one of the fastest warming states, the effects will bring a boom to many parts of the state. 

“This landmark legislation will also make historic investments in improving our drought resiliency and tackling the climate crisis,” said Nevada Senator Jackie Rosen. She explained that the bill will create more jobs in the clean-energy sector while also helping Nevada’s tenuous water future.

Tesla workplace – image: herby-401, cc 2.0

The bill includes $4 billion in funding for the Bureau of Reclamation to combat the record drought desiccating the west. A portion of this money is earmarked for the Colorado River basin. 

With the signing of this bill, the United States will be on the path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 40% in just eight years – the single biggest investment to address climate change by the United States.

Decarbonize the Economy

The bulk of the emission reductions will happen through modernizing electrical production, transportation, industrial manufacturing, and agriculture. All important sectors of Nevada’s economy. 

image: Staffan Agnetpun, cc 2.0

For the taxpayer, there will be climate-friendly tax breaks. Homeowners looking to install rooftop solar will be eligible for up to a $6,000 credit. Reducing the average cost by 30 percent. Additionally, many people will be eligible for up to a $7,500 credit towards the purchase of a new electric vehicle. There is also a $4,000 credit for the sustainable option of purchasing a used electric vehicle. 

Windmills in northeastern Nevada – Photo: Scott King

Vehicles that burn on fossil fuels are often cheaper and these credits will even the playing field. Giving Nevada residents seeking a new car sustainable options. Some electric cars may wind up being more affordable than their gas-guzzling counterparts. Subsidies also exist for heat pumps, electric stoves, and other energy efficiency projects. 

Providing charging stations in remote sections of vast Nevada is a challenge for state planners and their utility partners – photo: Scott King/the Ally

With both Tesla and Panasonic just outside of Reno, an increase in electric car sales across the country has the potential to increase jobs across the state. A boost to the local economy.  

Lower Energy Costs and investing in public lands

Perhaps one of the most immediate impacts on Nevadans is the reduction in energy costs. Several policies will go into effect under this bill that works to reduce the cost of gasoline and electric bills. The act will also invest $2 billion in national forest restoration and fuel management, and over $1 billion for state forest restoration and carbon sequestration. 

Prescribed fire in the Sierra Nevada. Resource managers with the U.S. Forest Service and other management agencies use controlled fires to clear dead vegetation and low-lying brush from a forest, lowering the risk that future wildfires will have enough fuel to grow to dangerous sizes – photo: Eric Knapp/US Forest Service

“These investments build upon the bi-partisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which has already begun investing in forest health and wildfire mitigation throughout the west,” explained Russell Kuhlman, the executive director of the non-profit Nevada Wildlife Federation. 

He is hopeful this will build upon the nearly $8 billion allocated for post-fire recovery and hazardous fuels reduction which was part of the IIJA signed by President Biden. 

Kuhlman sees the investments for wildfire mitigation and recovery as the most significant part of this package that will specifically affect northern Nevada. Along with the $4 billion nationwide to address the drought, which Las Vegas is very much experiencing, these are “the top two benefits this bill could really benefit Nevadans,” said Kuhlman. 

Nevada sagebrush – photo: courtesy of Russell Kuhlman, Executive Director – Nevada Wildlife Federation

Working towards a resilient Nevada

The bill hopes to reduce the healthcare costs for millions of Americans. Here in Nevada, there are over 121,000 people enrolled in the Nevada Healthlink, the state’s branch of the American Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

This bill lays out a plan to save the average ACA member up to $800 annually on their premiums. Anyone on Medicaid will see a reduction in prescription drug costs. Insulin will be capped at $35 per month for Medicare recipients. The annual cap placed on out-of-pocket drug expenses will be $4,000 for the next two years. In 2025, the cap will be reduced to just $2,000. 

Carson Tahoe Hospital in Carson City, NV – image – Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum

Nevadans may see a reduction in overall energy bills of up to $1,000 per year. The goal of this bill was to protect families earning less than $400,000 a year. Budget shortfalls are expected to be filled through a 15% corporate minimum tax and a 1% fee on stock buybacks. The IRS is also expected to receive enhanced enforcement abilities in order to monitor these new tax policies. 

“While there is still more to do, the text in this bill is a large step in the right direction”, said Kuhlman. “We are also glad to see Congress realize the cost of climate inaction and make historic investments that lower costs for families and provide funding for wildfire and drought-related issues.”

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Born and raised in tiny Quincy, Calif, Richard obtained a B.A. in Anthropology and Photography, in addition to an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada at Reno on the other side of the Sierra Nevada, where he is currently based. His words and photos have appeared in national and regional publications such as USA Today Reno Gazette-Journal, The Progressive, and the Sierra Nevada Ally. When not crafting stories that matter, Richard can be found traveling and camping with his wife and two daughters, tending a garden, baking bread, and playing the banjo.


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