Op-Ed: The Inflation Reduction Act will help to storm-proof Queens

Collage Maker-12-Jan-2023-07.02-PM
Julie Tighe (l.) and Grace Meng

Recently, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, marking the largest single investment the United States has ever made to preserve our environment and combat climate change. This legislation funds our clean energy future while lowering energy costs and making our communities be able to withstand ever increasing extreme weather events.

Recent storms have devastated our communities, and climate change is only exacerbating the frequency of so-called once-in-a-century disasters. This will mean more flooding for neighborhoods like ours, which is still recovering from Hurricane Ida, when so many homes were damaged and people lost their lives. As families in Queens are still trying to get back on their feet after that terrible storm, the Inflation Reduction Act contains measures that will help us be better prepared the next time.

Flooding happens when there’s too much water for the ground to soak up or when the water comes up too fast. One of the ways we can prevent excess flooding is by increasing the amount of green spaces to help capture that water before it ends up in basements and living rooms. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $1.5 billion for urban forests, which will help reduce flooding and clean our air at the same time. It includes $2.6 billion in coastal resiliency so we can strengthen coastlines such as Flushing Bay to prevent seawater from pouring into our communities during violent storms.

The Inflation Reduction Act invests in domestic clean energy technologies so our energy supply will be cleaner and cheaper. It will also help New York implement its 2019 climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and move the state toward its goal of 100% clean energy generation by 2040. This funding largely comes in the form of tax credits to renewable energy generators. It also includes rebates that will help New Yorkers with the costs of transitioning to clean energy.

But the Inflation Reduction Act also provides money for homeowners and renters. This means rebates covering 50-100% of the cost, depending on income, of installing new super-efficient electric appliances. That’s up to $840 for a clothes dryer, electric stove or oven, $1,750 for a water heater, and $8,000 for an air heat pump. There are rebates for retrofitting, too, such as $1,600 for insulation, air sealing and ventilation, and $2,500 for electric wiring. More efficient appliances and better insulated homes means lower energy bills month after month.

The Inflation Reduction Act is an historic piece of legislation that will combat the climate crisis and lower energy costs for middle-class New Yorkers, reduce air pollution, improve public health, and make our communities more resilient to powerful storms. The funding for a clean energy future is here now. We just need to build it.

Congresswoman Grace Meng represents parts of Queens. Julie Tighe is president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.