The U.S. Senate voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act – and the sweeping bill includes support for existing and new nuclear plants and is the most significant investment in history to fight the “existential crisis” of climate change.
The Senate vote comes days after Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, agreed to support a budget reconciliation bill that is part of President Joe Biden’s so-called “Build Better” program.
With 50 votes in favor and 50 against, Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote in favor led to the bill’s passage. For the bill to be signed into law by President Biden, it must be approved in the House of Representatives, where the Democratic Party has more seats than in the Senate.
The new law includes provisions to fight record inflation, reduce health care costs and improve energy security paid for by corporate taxes, and provides for about $369 billion in climate and energy investment, with numerous provisions supporting both the new and existing nuclear generation. Senate Democrats say the bill should cut carbon emissions by about 40% by 2030.
Reacting to the Senate vote, President Biden said the bill represents “the largest investment in U.S. history to combat the existential crisis of climate change.”
Among other things, this path to decarbonization includes creating fuel-neutral tax credits for electricity, allowing all zero-emission fuels to take advantage of investment or production tax credits, and providing tax credits to boost technologies such as fusion and advanced nuclear reactors.
The law also introduces the first ever production tax credit for existing nuclear and hydrogen projects.
Ahead of the Senate vote, U.S. Atomic Energy Institute President Maria Korsnik said the bill’s proposed tax provisions, including a tax credit for nuclear power generation, remove economic hurdles and provide confidence for investment in nuclear power plants.