Inflation Reduction Act Promotes Renewable Energy, Looks to Cut Emissions Drastically

The Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in August is the country’s most ambitious energy and climate policy to date. The legislation paves the way for more clean energy, updated building codes, billions of dollars for communities needing climate change help, and tax incentives to push climate-friendly technologies.

The pillar of the legislation is $375 billion over 10 years to promote consumers and industry to shift from carbon-emitting to cleaner forms of energy. Loans and tax credits will also help bolster technology such as solar panels and consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency.

The main climate change provisions include significant investments in clean energy, including tax breaks. The tax credits will help pivot the industry and consumers to renewable energy systems, including technologies such as dynamic glass. The Dynamic Glass Act specifies the use of electrochromic glass qualifies for the tax credit for investment in energy property.

The legislation also provides $330 million in grants to states and local governments to adopt the latest energy codes that meet or exceed the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and/or ASHRAE 90.1-2019. Additionally, it provides $670 million for states and localities to adopt and implement zero-energy stretch codes.

More than $250 million will go toward General Services Administration (GSA) facility retrofits and $2.15 billion for the Federal Buildings Fund. The GSA will use the funds to acquire and install low-embodied carbon materials and products for the construction or alteration of buildings. The legislation also includes $975 million for GSA to invest in emerging and sustainable technologies.

Furthermore, more than $7 billion in competitive grants will enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from zero-emission technologies.

According to officials, the Inflation Reduction Act could help the U.S. reduce emissions by about 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act Gains Traction

The Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act is working its way through the legislative process. Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu of California in late March 2021, the bill requires the U.S. Department of Labor to instate an enforceable federal safety standard for exposure to excessive heat.

“Excessive heat,” according to the bill’s text, includes outdoor or indoor exposure to heat at levels that “exceed the capacities of the body to maintain normal body functions and may cause heat-related injury, illness or fatality.” The bill also sets requirements for training and education aimed at preventing and responding to heat illness, as well as whistle-blower protections.

On July 19, the International Safety Equipment Association along with legislators, personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers, safety experts and more, met in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the bill. The event included a briefing on heat safety PPE from Magid, a manufacturer of PPE products.

AEC Advocates for Overhaul of Aluminum Exclusions Process

The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) testified in a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) hearing in July about the economic impact of Section 232 and 301 tariffs on U.S. industries. The AEC and its president, Jeff Henderson, say the current process puts domestic extruders at a disadvantage.

“Despite some initial relief for the domestic extrusion industry from the Aluminum Section 232 tariffs for imported aluminum extrusions, the structure of the exclusions process later developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, including the adoption of General Approved Exclusions (GAE) that do not require product-specific objections, has effectively gutted any relief for U.S. extruders from imports of extrusions the Aluminum 232 initially provided,” Henderson says.

He says the domestic industry is at a “severe disadvantage” compared to imported extrusions due to higher primary metal costs from Section 232 tariffs, paired with no protection from extrusion imports.

“The share of the U.S. market has shrunk from 80% to 75% since the 232 aluminum extrusion tariffs were revoked, which translates to 300 million pounds of extrusions or the equivalent of eight extrusion plants, or 2,000 direct jobs,” he adds.

AEC calls for an “immediate restructuring” of commerce’s 232 exclusions process, complete with removing the GAE applicable to imported extrusions. Without that change, Henderson says 232 “utterly fails to protect domestic extruders from foreign manufacturers.”

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