With the Raleigh skyline as a backdrop, Rep. Deborah Ross joined state and nonprofit leaders Thursday afternoon to celebrate this week’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and what the sweeping federal climate, health care, and tax bill will mean for North Carolinians.
“At a time when we need it most, this legislation marks the single largest investment we have ever made in this country’s history to combat climate change,” Ross said from Dorothea Dix Park on the campus of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “I’ve seen the potential our state has to lead this country in renewable energy. In particular, in offshore wind.”
Ross included a provision in the final bill that will end a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing. The moratorium, which applied to the southeastern Atlantic coast, was enacted by former President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2020 election. Ross called ending the moratorium “a step that will jump-start clean energy development in North Carolina and create thousands of jobs across our state.”
More green tax breaks
The Inflation Reduction Act also offers homeowners a variety of tax credits and rebates to make energy-efficient home improvements more affordable. The bill permits owners to take up to 30% off their federal taxes to cover solar costs, extending and expanding an existing tax credit for solar.
North Carolina is among the nation’s top five solar energy producers.
The bill also contains electric vehicle tax credits, $7,500 for new cars and $4,000 for used ones. Cars must be manufactured in North America to qualify, which means the hundreds of thousands of vehicles VinFast projects to produce in Chatham County will be eligible.
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Elizabeth Biser said the Inflation Reduction Act will allow the state to implement its clean energy plans.
In January, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order calling for statewide greenhouse gas emissions to be halved from their 2005 levels by 2030.
“(The bill) will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a scale demanded by the latest climate science and alleviate environmental impacts that disproportionately harm low-income and minority communities,” Biser said.
She noted that North Carolina residents are “no strangers to the impacts of major storms and flooding and extreme temperatures that threaten people’s lives, their health and their well-being.”
Welcoming a stronger IRS
On health care, Ross elicited cheers from the crowd when she pointed out that the bill caps insulin costs at $35 a month for those on Medicare.
“No one should have to choose between their health and their financial security,” she said.
Joining Ross and Biser at the press conference were Debra Farrington, the chief health equity officer for the state department of health, as well as Katharine Kollins of the nonprofit Southeastern Wind Coalition and Montravias King of the NC League of Conservation Voters.
While each extolled the bill as a monumental achievement, critics have seen it differently. No Republican in the House or Senate voted for the act.
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Republican Party condemned the legislation on Twitter, citing a provision in the bill that increases funding for the Internal Revenue Service.
“Make a note marking 08/16 down as the day Democrats overcame all common sense to commit to making the inflationary burden on American families worse, while simultaneously empowering the IRS to demand MORE of our already bruised and battered family budgets.”
The bill increases IRS funding by almost $80 billion over the next decade.
Ross dismissed concerns that the enhanced funding will cause more middle-class Americans to be audited. In fact, she said, many North Carolina residents would welcome more help with tax documents. Citing IRS funding cuts under the Trump administration, Ross said her office has had hundreds of conversations with people “who are not getting their refunds processed by the IRS, who are having their paper records not reviewed, and who would love to have more people working for the IRS so that they can get the services that they need.”
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.
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