Investing or Resting? The Inflation Reduction Act is Going Slow, at Least at the State Level

In my climate activist work, I’ve been trying to help others in my region learn about the potential direct and personal benefits the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act may hold for them. One of the principal aspects of much of the funding for the IRA is that these funds and the specific programs supporting these funds are to be directed through each state, and in Massachusetts, the main player is the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).

To get a picture of what is happening with IRA, I’ve emailed the DOER coordinator for the western regional that represents Berkshire County as well as several other counties and I’ve also emailed my State Senator.  The emails weren’t the first thing I did, of course. I spent quite a lot of time combing through my U.S. Senators’ and U.S. Representative’s websites for information about IRA implementation to date and found surprisingly little reference to IRA, but I did learn that the IRA funds going to each state are managed by the states themselves.

The website for the Massachusetts State government is called and I did a site search and found that there are five bills that address one or another element of IRA, but not one of these bills has been voted on and all remain in committee or hearings. Now, to be fair, I’ve just read that the federal government still has some clarifications and other details to resolve for the states, and if the states are waiting on these last details of implementation this may explain why, about a year after IRA’s passage, Massachusetts is still going slow.

It isn’t that nothing is happening through IRA. There has been an explosion in green energy investments sparked by the federal support in this act and apparently solar panels and heat pumps and other green appliances are flying off the shelves and participating citizens will get tax credits for such efforts, which means that the money going out to participating citizens need wait for 2023 tax filing. A nice overview of renewable energy investments can be found in Clean Energy Monitor, a collaboration between Rhodium Group (“…a leading independent research provider…[combining] economic data analytics and policy insight to help decision-makers in both the public and private sectors understand global trends”) and MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR).

The Clean Energy Monitor is a useful source for tracking clean energy investments, from Rhodium/MIT CEEPR

Another illuminating article comes in the form of a guest essay, “The Climate Fight Will Be Won in the Appliance Aisle,” appearing in today’s (that is, Sunday, October 1, 2023) edition of The New York Times, and it makes for interesting reading. Written by Robinson Meyer, a contributing Opinion writer and the founding executive editor of Heatmap, a media company focused on climate change, and he does a great job laying out the challenges ahead for IRA implementation, as well as noting early successes.

What surprises me, though, is how little information is out there about IRA benefits, although I’m speaking only about Massachusetts and haven’t done anything like a comprehensive nation-wide investigation. I did look at the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources site (which, for some reason, doesn’t get included in search functions of, despite being a sub-set of the main state government site), and that turned up 17 hits, although just three were within 2023 (well, the third most recent hit was December 2022, but don’t let anyone tell you I don’t cut people any slack!). I mean, this is one of the main—possibly, the major—bureaucracy in charge of implementing IRA funds for the state, and I can be forgiven for thinking that there would be a least some hoopla, since the Massachusetts portion of IRA funds is close to $300 million, if I recall correctly.  More surprising yet is that there isn’t much in the way of public education about all the benefits a resident of Massachusetts might enjoy while doing his or her part in helping address climate change.

This all seems very un-politician-like, and while I’m not a big fan of our elected officials constantly tooting their own horns, this current quietude puzzles me, since this is all good news, and even Christ had John the Baptist promote his upcoming tour.

Is bureaucracy one of the contributors to climate change? I’m getting worried that it just might be.

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