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The current United States government has an ambitious goal: to reduce carbon emissions and achieve 100% clean energy by 2035. Is this possible at all? a new report from the Evergreen Action organization, in conjunction with NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council), maps out how it could be done.
Making the last piece
The good news is that in recent years the United States has come a long way in expanding its renewable energy resources, providing much cleaner electricity than in the past. These leaps in growth have led to an important question for the future: where do we go from here?
In many ways, the first clean energy goals were the easiest to meet, required the least effort, and focused on the areas that are easiest to change. The remaining targets for the 2035 target are more difficult. They will likely require increased resources and regulation to comply, as well as a significant shift in industry and public thinking about how energy works.
Governments have many tools to bridge this gap, but taking action quickly is essential. Businesses should now consider possible discounts and financing options to save time.
Related: 5 tips for going creatively green with your business
Leveraging the Clean Air Act and EPA to revolutionize the energy industry
The EPA has significant powers to regulate certain business activities that can pollute the environment and threaten the health of citizens. That could include regulating carbon production and fuel exhaust through the Clean Air Act and other measures. But it must also include enforcement, something the EPA has traditionally failed to do: As the Evergreen Action report points out, 39 states have currently failed to file articles such as regional haze SIPs (Sharing Information on Progress) as required by law. This cannot continue if the energy targets are met.
How does EPA action contribute to the clean energy transition? Part of the “clean” label means that these sources naturally produce little or no exhaust or fumes: compare what an electric vehicle does to the air around it compared to a gasoline engine, and it’s easy to see how that effect can multiply when applied to an entire city – or a power plant.
That gives companies a few different options to respond to. Those who may be faced with carbon reduction requirements in their industry should start planning new energy sources now. Compliance is becoming more important than ever. California’s carbon mitigation program in recent years is a good example of where many other regions could go.
Related: Protect the environment, protect your business
Building on the efforts of the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act)
Passed in 2022, the IRA included many measures to grow the US economy. Part of that was the largest investment in the clean energy sector the country has ever seen. In the coming years, America should focus on using those funds to make the maximum difference.
One of the most critical efforts arising from the bill is an investment in new infrastructure needed for clean electricity transmission. That infrastructure is much easier to develop in urban areas, for example with handy EV battery chargers in parking lots. Rural areas face major challenges. That’s why the IRA is taking in a vital $12.8 billion for rural utility funding. This money is intended to help rural areas transition to clean energy sources, cancel debt associated with high-carbon fuel sources, make it easier for them to retire, and much more. It also provides funding for new public transmission lines and other key components that will be needed to meet future goals.
The IRA includes tax credits and other various tools to encourage businesses to adopt clean energy practices. If your business (especially those involved in any kind of energy or infrastructure work) hasn’t looked into IRA programs, now is the time to start. It is also advisable to gain experience in government procurement.
Financing of alternative energy sources, including nuclear and wind energy
The federal government also has many ways to encourage and fund research and adopt alternative energy technologies. That includes Greenhouse gas reduction fund, state climate grants and other “Force Multipliers” programs to help advance energy goals. Clean energy sources, including more wind farms and the adoption of small nuclear reactorswill be needed to achieve goals, and their increasing use must be met by efforts to educate the public about their benefits and safety.
These competitive grants can help different companies. Still, it is essential to enlist (or consult) expert grant writing services to ensure that the organization does all the t’s and masters the details necessary to qualify.
Possible versus practical
These steps are all possible – mechanisms exist to implement them. But of course there is another question: how practical are they in the current political climate? Such broad changes require broad political support and consensus, which currently does not exist in the United States. Congress is currently divided between parties with very different ideas about energy and regulation. Any additional laws or amendments will likely not receive enough votes to pass or face lawsuits that will eventually make it to the Supreme Court.
It doesn’t look like this situation will be resolved any time soon. But to achieve our important goals in the 2030s, an energy agreement is needed. Part of the solution lies in greater awareness and tighter plans, which means studies like this are vital. Other solutions lie with individual efforts by states and green energy initiatives by companies across the country. That means companies need to stay alert, watch for opportunities and prepare for a future where energy choices are more important than ever.