The democrats' proposed Inflation Reduction Act includes $370 billion to fight climate change. With such a major price tag, News 3 reporter Penny Kmitt looked into what this means for Eastern Virginia and North Carolina residents.
If you're looking to buy an electric car, you're in luck.
The bill allocates $51 billion in tax credits for electric vehicles. This means if you buy a new electric car, you can get up to $7,500 back in tax credits. If you buy a used electric car, you can get up to $4,000 back in tax credits.
"The bill puts a lot of money towards incentives," said Dr. James Blando, an economist at Old Dominion University. "Using a carrot rather than a stick to incentivize people to buy energy-efficient products."
Dr. Blando says the bill also allocates $98 billion to increase the production of renewable energy. This means you can also get money back for things like solar panels and appliances with the Energy Star stamp.
"With solar panels, it can be up to 30% of the installation cost as a tax incentive for you to install solar panels," said Dr. Blando. "Folks may be able to get 30% of their solar panel installation in their residential home rebated via these tax incentives."
The government hopes these initiatives will change consumer spending habits and reduce our emission of greenhouse gasses by 40%.
"I think this bill has a lot of potential to at least in part address climate change, it may not be enough to stop climate change, but at least it will have a positive impact," explained Dr. Blando. "If there is a switch to electric vehicles and we see an overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, generally speaking, that will have a positive impact."
But this positive impact will only come if consumers buy into it.
Dr. John Mulford, an economist at Regent University, says trying to convince new buyers to purchase products they may not have otherwise wanted may come at a great cost. He says if the only people buying the energy-efficient product are those who would've bought it anyways, the money produced by the tax incentives essentially goes to waste.
"The more that it's something that people want anyways, the money just goes in their pocket and they use it for something else," said Dr. Mulford. "And if you look at who buys electric cars it's usually people who make over $100 thousand a year, so the subsidy would be going to fairly wealthy people."
But if new buyers do feel incentivized, climate experts say we could seriously combat climate change and see a reduction of severe weather over time.
"I think you would potentially see improvement in the frequency of wildfires and intense weather events over the long term," said Dr. Blando. "None of this would occur short term next day, but think in long term you would see improvements in heat waves, drought conditions, and see improvement in extreme weather events."
"The storms the hurricanes that sometimes impact the east cost of VA is not going to get worse in the future," said Jerome Paulson, a pediatrician with Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.
Paulson says this could even improve the overall health of Virginians.
"Fewer people will develop asthma as a result of ozone exposure and fewer people will have problems with constructive pulmonary disease or emphysema," he explained.