by Michael Lawliss, JMA Senior Policy Coordinator
As states and cities begin to receive funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), President Biden signed off on two new laws that will continue the flow of federal funds to our communities. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act are landmark pieces of legislation that are likely to create hundreds of thousands of new, clean manufacturing jobs, helping us build critical domestic industries.
But we must ensure that we develop the economy of the future in an equitable way, providing opportunities for all. It will take additional federal and local action to make certain that the jobs created through these investments are good jobs that lift up workers and communities and address historic inequities.
The IRA makes significant investments to fight climate change. Here are some of the highlights:
- It makes historic climate investments through tax credits that incentivize renewable energy technology and clean transportation, including a $7,500 credit for consumers to purchase electric vehicles with batteries manufactured in North America. These investments are estimated to help our country reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.
- It also includes $1 billion in grants for local governments to buy certain types of heavy-duty electric vehicles, including municipal vehicles and school buses. Jobs to Move America has been advocating for the electrification of school buses as an opportunity to give children clean air to breathe, lower carbon emissions, and create good union jobs in this emerging sector.
- It creates new manufacturing jobs, by investing more than $60 billion in clean energy industries like battery production, solar panels, offshore wind turbines, heat pumps and recycling. Additional tax credits will help jump start these industries in the United States.
- It addresses historic inequities by investing $60 billion in programs related to environmental justice, including projects to address legacy pollution and bring clean energy technology to low-income and disadvantaged communities.
Meanwhile, CHIPS and the Science Act includes nearly $40 billion to grow the domestic supply chain of semiconductors—which are essential components of electronic devices, including those powering clean energy and transportation—and $11 billion to encourage research, development, and other workforce training initiatives within the industry.
It’s encouraging to see so much federal investment, but we can’t stop there. There’s much more to be done to address climate change and stand with workers and communities that will most profoundly feel the impact of transitioning to clean energy.
As we develop our domestic supply chain for electric vehicles, solar technologies, offshore wind components, and semiconductors, we will need to work together to make sure these are good jobs, and that mining to extract minerals needed for EV batteries is respectful of the environment, workers, and the communities where they operate. It is imperative that the Biden administration work with community groups, environmental organizations, and labor partners to create strong job quality standards attached to this funding.
One change the Biden administration can make right now to center job quality in these investments is to update the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Guidance. Allowing states and cities to consider job quality metrics, like the number of U.S. jobs created, wages and benefits, training opportunities for workers, and targeted hiring policies, will help foster a “race to the top” when states and cities spend public funds.
We look forward to working with the Biden administration on making sure these public investments benefit workers and communities and create good jobs with safe working conditions for those who need them the most.