The Rollout of America’s New Climate Law Is a Story Bonanza

News coverage to date has left 47% of voters unaware of the Inflation Reduction Act.

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“The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It is an existential threat,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday as he used his State of the Union address to tout the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden teased Republican lawmakers for asking his administration to fund clean energy projects in their districts even though they had voted against the IRA, which includes an estimated $369 billion in incentives to cut heat-trapping emissions by as much as 40% by 2030. The president also criticized oil companies for making record profits during Russia’s war on Ukraine, though he added that the US is “still going to need oil and gas for a while.”

Biden’s praise for the IRA might have been lost on most Americans, though, because 47% of all registered voters have never heard of the new law, according to a December poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. Despite ample press coverage last August when Biden signed the IRA, the poll found that only 13% of registered voters had heard “a lot” about the most ambitious climate law ever enacted in the US.

For journalists, implementation of the IRA offers a bonanza of story opportunities. Media coverage can explain what the IRA aims to achieve and how that connects to the larger climate emergency. It can hold the law’s promises to account while helping audiences understand how federal climate action can affect their daily lives and local economies. Will the IRA in fact create millions of clean energy jobs, as promised? Will 40% of the funding actually be directed to historically disadvantaged communities? And how can ordinary Americans take advantage of the law’s abundant tax credits and other incentives?

This is a national story with many local angles. The Washington Post and The New York Times have published explainers and consumer guides on how to access IRA funding. Bloomberg reported this week that more than 100,000 new green jobs have been created in 31 states since the IRA passed six months ago, according to data from the nonprofit Climate Power. (Climate Power has tracked over 90 individual projects so far, providing journalists with a helpful tool for finding projects to cover.) Meanwhile, WE-ACT and other environmental justice groups are working to make sure disadvantaged communities and their elected officials know how to access IRA funding.

The coming months — and years — will test whether the IRA actually delivers the massive emissions reductions that its proponents say are possible. The implicit strategy is that the IRA’s subsidies will lower clean energy prices enough that fossil fuels will no longer be competitive. It’s going to be quite a drama. CCNow will be offering a press briefing and other guidance to help journalists cover this unfolding story, so stay tuned.

From Us

Awards. The 2023 Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards are now accepting submissions for work published, broadcast, or otherwise released during calendar year 2022. The submission deadline is March 15. Learn more. 

Noteworthy Stories

Trade spat. Leaders around the world are saying the clean energy subsidies made available through the Inflation Reduction Act are a form of “green protectionism” that could lead to a global “clean-energy arms race.” This explainer looks at world reaction to the US climate policy, including the European Union’s newly released “Green Deal Industrial Plan,” which EU leaders are debating this week. Read it at Carbon Brief…

Linked. A multimedia report by NPR connects climate change, migration, and far-right politics through the eyes of Africans who have left their homes due to climate impacts. The story journeys from Senegal to Morocco to Spain to show how this tension is playing out across continents. See it at NPR… 

Massive loans. Under President Donald Trump, the US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office was “essentially dormant,” according to its current head, Jigar Shah. Following the passage of the IRA, Shah is now overseeing $400 billion to help fund clean energy projects. His office is currently reviewing 125 applications seeking $119 billion in loans. By Oliver Milman at the Guardian…

Climate FAQs. The New York Times asked readers to submit their climate questions and has created a FAQ on topics such as climate science, jargon, and what people can do to help solve the climate crisis. Read it at The New York Times…

Taxing. A variety of tax proposals linked to climate change are being considered in the US and Europe to help fund the clean energy transition. While a windfall tax on oil and gas company’s profits is off the table in the US for now, in other countries the idea is forging ahead. By Justin Worland at TIME… 

Free to Publish

The following stories deserve special consideration for republication by CCNow partners:

For partner outlets: The full list of stories available for republication and instructions to do so can be found in our Sharing Library. To submit stories for sharing, please use this form.


Reporting guide. The Society of Environmental Journalists has released its “2023 Guide to Energy & Environment,” including stories to watch, backgrounders, and tip sheets for journalists. See the guide. 

Climate anxiety. As people feel more worried about climate change, how can journalists best handle these emotions? The nonprofit Psychologists for Future Germany has a new guide for media covering climate. Be sure to check out their “climate box” proposal — similar to information about support services included in stories on suicide. Clean Energy Wire wrote about it here.

Jobs, Etc.

Jobs. The Boston Globe is hiring a climate reporter. The Seattle Times is looking for a climate change reporter. Carbon Brief is recruiting a section editor. The Weather Network, based in Canada, is hiring a full-time climate reporter.

Fellowship. The Center on Global Energy Policy fellows program will be held in New York City from June 20-23. Applications are due March 1. Learn more.

Call for pitches. The Sunrise Project is looking to fund freelance investigative journalists to conduct investigations into private financial institutions’ role in the climate crisis. The application deadline is February 23. Learn more.

SEJ awards. The Society of Environmental Journalists has launched its annual awards for reporting on the environment. The submission deadline is May 1. Learn more.