On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Over its 755 pages, the IRA covers and details investments in a wide range of initiatives, including deficit reduction, prescription drug prices, clean energy promotion and production, permitting reform, and climate change. The IRA is probably the largest investment the federal government has made towards promoting clean energy and combatting the impacts of climate change in recent times. In this blog post, we focus on a couple of IRA initiatives aimed at promoting climate resilience and environmental justice.
IRA Investments in Coastal Resilience to Climate Change
Under the IRA, $2.6 billion are appropriated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to make funds available to local governments, tribal governments, nonprofits, and higher education institutions for conservation, restoration, and protection of coastal and marine habitats, and to enable coastal communities to prepare for extreme storms and other impacts of climate change. The funds that will be made available by NOAA may also be used for administrative expenses related to these initiatives.
IRA Investments in Environmental Justice
The IRA appropriates another $2.8 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency to establish and award environmental and climate justice block grants to eligible entities for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.
Under President Biden’s January 27, 2021 Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, “disadvantaged communities” were described as marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. Since that time, the Council on Environmental Quality has launched its Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, which identifies disadvantaged communities for purposes of federal government environmental justice programs and initiatives. Under the IRA, the term “disadvantaged communities” is left to the EPA Administrator to define; there is no definition in the IRA. We expect that the EPA may define “disadvantaged communities” for purposes of the IRA in the future, but, until then, the Screening Tool is a useful resource to identify disadvantaged communities.
Eligible entities for environmental and climate justice block grants include:
- A partnership between an Indian tribe, a local government, or a higher education institution, and a nonprofit entity;
- A community-based nonprofit entity; and
- A partnership of nonprofit entities.
The projects that may be pursued under the environmental and climate justice block grants include:
- Air pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation
- Investment in low and zero emission and resilient technologies
- Mitigating climate and health risks from the urban heat island effect and extreme heat
- Climate resiliency and adaptation
- Facilitating community engagement in state or federal rulemaking and other public proceedings
There are significant opportunities in the IRA for financial support for the City of Boston, other coastal cities in Massachusetts, higher education institutions, and other nonprofits to promote and further needed investments in climate resilient structures and other projects that promote climate mitigation and adaptation. We will continue to monitor these developments.
Sammy Nabulsi is a partner at Rose Law Partners LLP. His practice focuses on real estate, land use, and environmental permitting and litigation. If you have questions, feel free to contact Sammy by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (617) 536-0040.