Megan Hall: Welcome to Possibly, where we take on huge problems like the future of our planet and break them down into small questions with unexpected answers. I’m Megan Hall. 

For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that puts hundreds of billions of dollars in federal money towards addressing climate change. 

Today, We're going to look at how states can take advantage of this new law. 

Juliana Merullo and Charlie Adams from our Possibly team are here to walk us through the details. 

Juliana Merullo: Hiya Megan!

Charlie Adams: Hey Megan!

Megan Hall: So, now that the IRA is being implemented, what does that mean for states? 

Juliana Merullo: As you know, the money in the bill is given out in a lot of different ways, including grants, rebates, tax credits, and investments. 

Charlie Adams: In a lot of cases, states are going to be the ones actually giving out this money. They’ll decide who can apply for grants, or who qualifies for certain rebates and funding. 

Megan Hall: How much money is each state going to get? 

Juliana Merullo: It really depends on each section of the bill. Some of it is given out based on the size of the state, but in some cases, states have to apply for the money that’s available. 

Charlie Adams: To learn more, we talked to Tulane University Professor Josh Basseches.

Josh Basseches: I research state-level climate and renewable energy policy and politics. 

Charlie Adams: He says the inflation reduction act doesn’t put a lot of restrictions on how states should spend their climate change funds, so…

Josh Basseches: States can really seize that opportunity to do things like build charging 

infrastructure for electric vehicles or give some of it to home weatherization that can improve energy efficiency. 

Megan Hall: That’s a lot of freedom!

Charlie Adams: Absolutely, which is why it’s hard to say exactly what each state will do.  

Juliana Merullo: Some states, including Rhode Island, where we live, have their own plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Charlie Adams: But there are still a lot of states that refuse to act on climate change. So, that’s a big unknown.

Juliana Merullo: And if they fail to act, the US might not reach its emission reduction goals

Megan Hall: Ok, well what about Rhode Island? How is our state going to use this funding? 

Juliana Merullo: To find out, we called up someone who’s worked on federal climate change legislation for a long time. 

Senator Whitehouse: I'm Sheldon Whitehouse, and I represent Rhode Island in the US Senate.

Charlie Adams: Senator Whitehouse says that Rhode Island will benefit from funding for offshore wind, and coastal protection, but also a renewed focus on energy efficiency: 

Senator Whitehouse: “There’s so much need to reduce emissions through efficiencies, and the state’s in a perfect position to moderate that”

Megan Hall: What will that actually look like?

Juliana Merullo: Basically there are two sections in the bill that give money directly to state energy offices for them to start energy efficiency rebate programs.

Charlie Adams: Last week we mentioned these programs because they can help you buy things like high-efficiency heat pumps and clothes dryers.

Juliana Merullo: States have to create these rebate programs and apply to get the funding. But If Rhode Island takes advantage of it, it’s set to receive around 67 million of the total 9 billion dollars in the law.

Megan Hall: That’s a small percentage! 

Juliana Merullo: We’re a small state! 

Charlie Adams: But we could potentially get more money! After two years, any funds that aren’t used can go to states that have established programs! 

Megan Hall: So, how do we make the most of this money?  

Juliana Merullo: Senator Whitehouse says a big part of the work is just letting people know this money is available. 

Whitehouse: That’s an important role for the state to make sure that we’re getting our fair share and more of participation in these programs. 

Juliana Merullo: So look out for information from housing authorities, city officials, public accountants, and community action programs. All of these groups will work with state agencies and officials to get the word out about how to apply for these funds.  

Megan Hall: Good to know! Thanks, Juliana and Charlie! 

That’s it for today. For more information, or to ask a question about the way your choices affect our planet, go to the public’s radio dot org slash possibly. Or subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Possibly is a co-production of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown’s Climate Solutions Initiative, and the Public’s Radio