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State lawmakers and governors scramble to take advantage of nearly $5 billion fund: 'This is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity'

"It's really important they get the details right."

"It's really important they get the details right."

Photo Credit: iStock

Community planners in Virginia have outlined crucial strategies for using $4.6 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds to support state subsidies for electric vehicles, improved public transit, increased bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and more affordable energy sources for homes and businesses. 

Developed after six months of public feedback and submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, Virginia's Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) reflects a strong commitment to reducing pollution created by oil and gas use by opting for lower-carbon energy sources like natural gas and electricity. 

According to Inside Climate News, the state's plan also took direct input from communities into account when creating their plan as cities from Richmond to the D.C. area wrote their own PCAPs, which were included in the final proposal. 

"This is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Nicole Keller, a PlanRVA resilience planner. "Transportation is by far the largest piece of the emissions pie," as well as the region's biggest focus, Keller mentioned.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a significant legislative move by the U.S. government, marking its largest investments in helping Americans save on energy bills and reduce harmful carbon pollution. 

Not only can the IRA provide funding for community-wide sustainability projects through the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program, but it also offers a variety of financial incentives for individuals and families to make eco-friendly choices. 

For example, the IRA could help you receive thousands of dollars in tax breaks and credits for upgrades like purchasing electric vehicles, switching to an induction stove, or even installing solar panels — all of which can save you even more money over time. 

Although these proposed plans are part of a competitive process and no federal money is guaranteed, these ideas can set an example for communities across the country to move forward with a cooler, cleaner future in mind. 

"Even if we don't get an implementation grant fund, this plan does not go on a shelf," Keller stated. "It is really going to help influence the agenda for our work going forward."

"It's really important they get the details right," said Garret Gee, a senior attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, regarding all local entities seeking funds. These plans will create a "more complete picture of the way Virginia thinks about the clean energy transition."

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