The Major Money Doctrine
Senate passes biggest climate legislation ever.
In June, the Supreme Court trimmed EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. The Court used the “Major Question Doctrine,” which says that issues of “vast political and economic significance” must be decided by Congress. Senate Democrats gave their response on Sunday: the Major Money Doctrine. They passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides over $300 billion in funding for climate action. The House is expected to pass the IRA on Friday.
Here’s what the bill does to decarbonize the grid:
- A massive ten-year extension of clean electricity tax credits.
- $27 billion for a green bank to deploy clean technology.
- $9 billion in rebates to energy consumers.
- $2 billion for new transmission lines.
- $18 billion for DOE loans to finance energy projects on tribal lands.
Here are some of the transportation measures:
- $40 billion to get new energy technologies over the “Valley of Death” between successful demonstration and commercial-scale deployment.
- $10 billion for rural electricity coops to build renewables.
- A consumer tax credit for new and used EVs built using U.S. supply chains.
- Funding for zero-emissions trucks and buses, including $1 billion for school and transit buses and garbage trucks.
- A tax credit for heavy-duty charging stations.
- $3 billion for the Post Office to buy electric delivery vans.
And there’s more. The bill also contains $6 billion to support emissions reductions by heavy industry and to support low-emission building materials. There’s almost $9.5 billion for environmental justice. On top of all that, IRA also imposes a fee starting at $900/ton on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Finally there’s $5 billion in funding for forests.
Thus, just as the Justices hoped, Congress is taking the reins of policymaking back in its own hands. Presumably, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is thrilled that sending climate issues back to Congress got such a quick answer. Justice Gorsuch, who has done the most to celebrate Congress’s role in policymaking, must be especially jubilant. A win-win all the way around.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more