Happy IRA anniversary! In August 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It’s the biggest federal investment in addressing climate change that the United States has ever made, and a landmark law for lung health. This will be the first of two blog posts looking back on progress under the Inflation Reduction Act, focusing on air quality and climate change. Stay tuned for a future post on how the law is impacting healthcare.

The climate investments under the law are rolling out. And one year later, the need for climate action is clearer than ever - our lungs are under threat both indoors and outdoors. From the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, from San Diego to the Leigh Valley, climate change has fueled extreme natural disasters which worsen air quality in myriad ways. 

Many Inflation Reduction Act investments are spurring more clean, renewable electricity and the transition to electric vehicles, like tax credits up to $7,500 for the purchase of new electric vehicles and up to $4,000 for used electric vehicles. These measures not only address climate change, but also clean up air pollution by shifting away from burning fossil fuels and toward a zero-emission future. Other measures have an immediate impact on air quality, like funding for 132 community air monitoring projects focused on environmental justice areas. Environmental and Climate Justice Grants are still coming together but will allow states and localities to create projects and programs with the goal of tangible improvements in air quality and physical resiliency.

The Lung Association also focuses on quality of the air we breathe inside while we are at home. Various programs and funds within the law have the potential to be a game changer for indoor air, like tax credits up to $1200 for energy efficient home improvements like windows, doors and home energy audits. 

These programs additionally support communities of color and of lower income. These communities have long faced disproportionate levels of unhealthy pollution. The programs will help reduce dust, mold, radon, asbestos, pest infestation and the burning of fuels in the home that’s particularly harmful to kids with asthma. Check out this calculator from Rewiring America to estimate which incentives could apply to your situation. 

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, including the $7 billion Solar for All program, follows through on commitments to environmental justice. EPA has announced $20 billion in competitive grants through this fund that are available for community leaders to propose innovative ideas to reduce emissions and accelerate the clean energy transition. 

And this is just the tip of the spear. The Inflation Reduction Act included funding to reduce air pollution in schools, make our nation’s port communities cleaner, transition to zero-emission school buses and more. It truly is a monumental law that, if implemented, can change the trajectory of the country’s work to address climate change and improve air quality.

What’s Next?

The American Lung Association and our volunteers, as well as many other organizations advocated for more than a year and a half for the provisions ultimately included in the Inflation Reduction Act. The work of implementing the law’s promise of cleaner air and a safer climate is well underway, but much more is to come. Much of the work will take place at the state and local levels, from official entities to community groups to individuals. States must submit applications for home energy efficiency, home electrification, energy efficiency workforce training and sustainable energy resources for consumer grants, for example. Encourage your local leaders to apply for eligible funds and engage with communities to determine their best use.

And at the same time, the Lung Association is defending the progress Congress made by passing the Inflation Reduction Act from current efforts to roll some of its measures back. Congress is currently working to pass bills to fund the federal government, and unfortunately, some proposals have included cuts to or elimination of certain Inflation Reduction Act programs and funding. Join the American Lung Association in calling on Congress to pass responsible spending bills that preserve the Inflation Reduction Act and protect lung health.

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