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A Brighter Future for W.Va.

The clean energy provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 are the step forward that West Virginia and the nation need to address many of the economic challenges we face today and set us on a path to deliver the next generation of energy with a simple, common-sense approach.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that will have a positive impact on West Virginia’s economy and will pay for itself through closing tax loopholes, creating cheaper energy, and creating new jobs for years to come.

Sen. Joe Manchin should be recognized for his leadership. He stayed at the negotiating table throughout months of intense public pressure to reach this agreement. The Inflation Reduction Act addresses some of the biggest challenges of our time — health care for our most vulnerable citizens, tax equity, the budget deficit, and climate change — so of course there is vigorous public debate.

The health of our economy, our communities, and our planet is at stake, and the United States must lead by example by stepping boldly into the low-carbon future while protecting our own energy security and respecting our energy communities. This legislation allows consumers and the market to guide the energy transition that has been ongoing in our country for decades while setting out economic pathways to achieve a new energy economy — an energy economy that will help to keep our communities and planet safe and support the livelihoods of West Virginians and all Americans.

Sen. Manchin engaged the nation’s business leaders and energy producers. He conferred with his Republican colleagues. And at the end of the day, he listened to West Virginians and their hopes for a healthy, economically stable and bright future.

This bill enables a realistic all-of-the-above approach to expand clean electricity and fuels. This deliberate, steady pace in the transition to a low-carbon economy gives West Virginia a chance to build on our strong energy foundation while still rising to meet the challenge of climate change.

Tax incentives in the bill support clean power from existing technologies like renewables and nuclear, complemented by incentives for emerging technologies like clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage that make use of our plentiful supplies of West Virginia natural gas.

The tax incentives for renewable energy and clean manufacturing are designed in a way that will attract new, clean investments specifically to states like West Virginia. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will support new industries and opportunities here at home while helping our existing manufacturing base operate more efficiently and more competitively across the globe.

The legislation also adds to the historic investments in West Virginia’s forests from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will improve forest health and maximize the ability of our trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. And it financially supports farmers for undertaking climate-smart agriculture practices.

An independent, moderate approach like this will draw critics from both ends of the political spectrum. But, setting politics aside, this bill provides a strong, fair and forward-facing foundation to help manage the economic pressure that all Americans and West Virginians face and lays out a path for an energy and economic future in which communities thrive.

This bill is a critically important step forward to address the climate crisis. We must build upon this step to secure a vibrant future for the generations that will come after us, and we must do so using all the solutions at our disposal.

Thomas Minney is the executive director of The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia. Beth Wheatley is The Nature Conservancy’s director of State Climate and Energy Policy for the U.S. and senior advisor to West Virginia.

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