An analysis from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office estimates that combined, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill can meet the majority of President Joe Biden’s target to drastically slash emissions by the end of the decade.
In a letter sent Wednesday to congressional Democrats, Schumer said new analysis shows the combined impact of both bills would put the US on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.
“When you add Administrative actions being planned by the Biden Administration and many states – like New York, California, and Hawaii – we will hit our 50% target by 2030,” Schumer wrote in the letter.
The 50% target Schumer is referring to the new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions that Biden laid out at his virtual Earth Day summit earlier this year. During the summit, Biden vowed the United States would slash its emissions by 50 to 52% relative to 2005 levels by 2030.
Many experts view Biden’s 2030 goal as a critical step for the US to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, a target scientist warn the world’s largest carbon emitters must hit to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Though the analysis Schumer cites combines the impacts of both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill, it also shows the vast majority of the emissions reduction would be achieved through budget reconciliation.
Close to 42% of the goal would be achieved from a Clean Electricity Payment Program and clean energy tax incentives to vastly expand wind, solar and other renewable energy technology, according to Schumer’s analysis. Nearly 16% would come from electric vehicle tax incentives, and another 9% would come from a fee on methane.
The Clean Electricity Payment Program – also known as a Clean Electricity Standard – provides incentives and payments for electricity suppliers to gradually increase the amount of clean electricity they produce – getting to 80% clean electricity nationwide by 2030. Biden has said he wants to hit 100% clean electricity in 2035.
CNN has not yet been able to independently verify the figures in Schumer’s letter, but Leon Clarke, the research director at the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability, told CNN that it generally aligns with outside analysis. Multiple studies show that the two largest contributors to US emissions are electricity generation and transportation – and that decarbonizing these two sectors would bring the majority of emissions reductions.
“Almost always what you see is that basically by phasing out coal and replacing it with other stuff, that electricity is going to be 50% of your reductions,” Clarke told CNN. “Those are your big plays in the short run.”
Given the reconciliation bill is still being drafted, Clarke said it’s difficult for experts to determine whether the policies would make the dent lawmakers are saying they will. For instance, there’s not yet a final dollar amount allocated for a Clean Electricity Payment Program, or tax credits for renewable energy.
“Everyone’s guessing; nobody knows what the policies are,” Clarke said. “Everyone knows you’ve got to get rid of coal, but nobody has the ability to say here’s what’s going to be in the actual bill and here’s an assessment of that.”
Schumer told senators his team “aggregated the best available data from a wide range of organizations that specialize in policy analysis for each emissions reducing policy in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and each proposed policy for the budget resolution.”
The letter also reiterated the numbers are expected to change; the budget reconciliation bill and accompanying tax plan still have yet to be written. While committees have reconciliation instructions, the real work of drafting the bills will take place over the next month.
Schumer has said he wants a final draft of the reconciliation bill completed by Sept. 15.
“We are on the precipice of the most significant climate action in our country’s history,” Schumer wrote. “I do not believe we have the luxury of failure if we are to provide a good future for ourselves and our children.”