Battling Refrigerators in the War on Climate Change
As the year 2020 drew to a close, President Donald J. Trump’s decision to sign a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package dominated media headlines. But a less-publicized government funding bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump alongside the controversial pandemic relief package, featured multiple provisions to fight climate change that won bipartisan support.
As part of the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed with the relief package, lawmakers authorized the largest expenditure on renewable energy research and development since 2009: approximately $35 billion over the next five years. Of that, nearly $4 billion is earmarked for renewable energy research and development from sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower. Another $6.6 billion is dedicated to developing nuclear power technology, and $6 billion will fund research on carbon capture and storage—a growing technology that may help control greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel energy generators.
Significantly, the spending law moves well beyond preexisting tax credits for land-based wind and solar energy, which were also extended in the same law and supported by Republicans in the past. The law also adds the first U.S. tax credit for offshore wind projects and applies to those that began construction in 2017, extending through 2025.
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