On the same day President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, Capital Region Congressman Paul Tonko was in Albany to tout the measure’s ability to lower greenhouse gas emissions and invest in new clean energy projects.
Tonko joined Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and environmental activists at the Albany Skyway to celebrate the package and the green investments it will bring to the Capital Region and Adirondacks. The Democrat calls it a landmark accomplishment in fighting climate change:
“The IRA will slash climate pollution, cutting or nation’s emissions down an estimated 40 percent by 2030 and putting our country’s goal of cutting pollution by half of peak levels within reach,” he said.
Republicans opposed the narrowly-approved package, saying it will hurt businesses and undermine a fragile economy.
Biden signed the bill later in the day:
“Making progress in this country as big and complicated as ours clearly is not easy. It’s never been easy, but with unwavering conviction commitment and patience progress does come,” Democrat said.
The bill invests $370 billion over 10 years for electric vehicles and clean energy tax incentives. That includes a tax credit of up to $7,500 for buying qualified new EVs. There is also an investment in clean energy production, including wind farms. At the Skyway overlooking the Hudson River, Tonko discussed the benefits of wind energy. Lawmakers earlier this year announced Albany’s Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Port Project, a $357 million wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany.
“Unleashing a wave of new good paying union jobs. Let me repeat that, good paying union jobs like we are already seeing here in the Capital Region, spurring domestic manufacturing of batteries of solar panels of wind turbines and more setting the United States up to compete in the global clean energy economy and creating millions of clean energy job.”
Greg Jacob, senior policy advisor at the Nature Conservancy, calls the bill “historic.”
“The Nature Conservancy works across the country and around the world to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. The enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act is a significant leap forward in our collective fight against global warming and rapid habitat loss.”
Tonko criticized the Trump administration for not investing more in clean energy.
“Investing strongly in offshore wind passing by restoring Offshore Wind Opportunities Act to lift the offshore wind moratorium in the southeastern U.S. and Eastern golf. A ban that went imposed by the former administration that would have denied opportunities for offshore wind and work in this region as we become the epicenter of offshore wind.”
The Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan pointed out the last major environmental bill was the Clean Air Act of 1990.
“That created the first acid rain program in the United States. That program made a huge difference in what was falling in the Adirondack Park and over the last 30 years. We’ve seen an enormous recovery. Fish species coming back to places where lakes had been dead before. Fish coming off of the do-not-eat list because the ones contaminated with mercury are no longer so. Today will be marked as another milestone when we took similar measures to control climate change for the first time. This will help the Adirondacks cope with the changes that are going to be inevitable over the next 30 years as things continue to get warmer. It will also slow down some of the damage that we’re expecting the park to suffer if we didn’t do something about climate change very soon.”