That Was The Year That Was
The Biggest Environmental Stories of 2022
A lot has happened on the environmental front. Here are the biggest stories of 2022.
- Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, providing $369 billion in tax credit and spending to reduce carbon emissions.
- California banned the sale of new gas cars in 2035, with several other states now agreeing to follow suit.
- The Democrats lost control of Congress, eliminating the chances for significant climate/energy legislation in the next two years.
- The Supreme Court heard the Sackler case, which will have a huge impact on federal regulation of wetlands. The oral argument suggested that the Justices were looking for a middle ground.
- The Supreme Court decided West Virginia v. EPA, which reinvigorated the “Major Question Doctrine,” axed Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and increased barriers to future EPA regulation.
- California committed to carbon neutrality by 2045 and invested $50 billion in clean energy, along with other new climate legislation, while 20 other states remain committed to targets for carbon neutrality.
- Congress ratified the Kigali treaty, which will reduce emissions of super-greenhouse gases.
- Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, which is primarily devoted to semiconductors and AI, but also contains billions of dollars of funding for clean tech R&D.
The biggest of these stories is the Inflation Reduction Act, the first major climate law ever to pass Congress. It will reduce cumulative GHG emissions by an estimated 6.3 billion tons over the next decade. It should also have a snowball effect, leading to economies of scale, increased innovation, and a growing political base for further action.