Landmark US climate bill: U-M experts available
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the Inflation Reduction Act today, which includes nearly $400 billion for clean energy initiatives. The legislation was approved by the Senate last weekend and, if signed into law, would be the country’s largest-ever investment in the fight against climate change.
University of Michigan experts are available to comment.
Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy and professor of political science and the environment. He studies U.S. climate policy, including issues of federal-state relations and the roles of respective branches of government. Rabe has written widely about these issues, including the evolution of the Clean Power Plan under President Obama and the subsequent Affordable Clean Energy Rule under President Trump, which are focal points in the current case. These are examined in his book, “Trump, the Administrative Presidency, and Federalism.”
“One major component of the legislation addresses methane, a major climate pollutant that has tended to get less attention than carbon dioxide until recently,” he said. “The new statute established a fee on methane releases from the oil and gas sector, designed to complement other regulatory policies that are being developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With this step, the U.S. would join Norway as only the second major national producer of oil and gas to establish a tax or fee on methane emissions in an attempt to incentivize less waste.
“Methane has value as an energy source if captured, and its waste through venting and flaring has been a major contributor to American greenhouse gas emissions. The new federal methane fee is designed to work in tandem with federal and state regulations on methane to achieve significant reductions in this potent greenhouse gas. This increases the prospects that the United States could emerge as a global leader in this area.”
Drew Horning is special adviser to the U-M president for carbon neutrality and managing director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. He manages universitywide efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, and he previously served as administrative director for the U-M President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality.
“The Inflation Reduction Act will play a critical role in accelerating the development and deployment of wide-ranging technological solutions that are needed to urgently address the global climate crisis,” he said. “This new federal investment should lead to breakthroughs and declining cost-curves that will be essential for institutions seeking to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions. As U-M works toward universitywide carbon neutrality, I’m excited by the prospects of this legislation—for our university and others moving in a more sustainable direction.”
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Richard Rood is a professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the College of Engineering and professor at the School of Environment and Sustainability. He is an expert on U.S. weather modeling and can discuss the connection between weather, climate and society. He is also a co-principal investigator at the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, a federally funded partnership between U-M and Michigan State University.
“I am excited about the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, aka the ‘Climate Bill,'” he said. “It is an interesting set of political compromises that should establish renewable energy and electrification of transportation as mainstream. It should accelerate current trends. There is investment in carbon capture and storage, which will be an important part of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Also, it is a rare action at the national level that will help establish the U.S. as a credible actor on the international scale. This bill is an important start in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
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