At a White House press briefing on Monday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was asked by Yahoo News to weigh in on the sharp rise in renewable energy projects in Republican-led states like Texas since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Texas, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows, is poised to overtake California in terms of solar power capacity, and aggressively pursued the construction of new wind, solar and battery storage projects in the second half of 2022.
“With respect to Texas, what an opportunity for every state to be able to produce clean energy. And, in fact, a Politico story this morning suggested that there was an abundance of announcements coming out of red states — great! That is fantastic," Granholm said. "We want to be able to see energy, clean energy produced in every pocket of the country — blue states, red states — really, it helps to save people money, so it’s really all about green."
In August, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. Since then, companies have announced tens of billions of dollars in renewable energy projects nationwide, Politico reported Monday, including a large percentage in Republican-led states where lawmakers voted against the legislation.
While many Republican lawmakers and governors have shied away from supporting laws that would start to address rising global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels, they are less resistant to the the renewable energy jobs boom that has resulted from the Inflation Reduction Act.
“Just because you vote against a bill doesn’t mean the entire bill is a bad bill,” Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., told Politico. “I go out there and advocate for our district to try and get transportation funds, to try and get energy funds. That’s my job. I am not embarrassed about it. I don’t think it’s inconsistent with my vote.”
The new law's $369 billion in climate-related spending over 10 years targets five areas: consumer clean energy costs, decarbonizing various sectors of the economy, domestic clean energy manufacturing, environmental justice, and agriculture and land use. But it's the law's robust tax credits that experts say have supercharged a manufacturing and jobs boom.
"I'm really excited to see, especially in the next year as companies really start to digest the IRA and determine what it means for their bottom line, to see all of the growth in the manufacturing facilities that might come as a result of the IRA," Robbie Orvis, senior director of modeling and analysis at Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC, told Morning Consult.
While the overriding goal of the new law is to spur a transition to renewable energy sources and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, the creation of new green jobs has long been touted by Democrats in their proposals to address climate change.
In 2019, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., introduced her resolution for the Green New Deal in the House, Republicans responded by attacking it as a "jobs killer" that would result in dramatic tax increases.
But an October analysis by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that the Inflation Reduction Act would create 9 million jobs by 2032.
On the growth of the renewable economy in the U.S., Granholm said Monday that "it’s helpful to the planet, but it’s also helpful for jobs and it’s also helpful for us to be energy independent, which is exactly what the president would like to see, homegrown, clean energy, independent so that we are strong and resilient.”