The federal climate bill is expected to further boost the efforts of Vt.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Federal researchers say greenhouse gases hit new highs last year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new report follows President Biden’s landmark climate bill that aims to invest $369 billion, and Vermont is set to get a piece of the pie.

Vermont’s three major greenhouse gas-emitting sectors — transportation, construction and thermal power, and agriculture — are all directly targeted by the Inflation Reduction Act. Now, local officials say it’s about putting the state in a position to make the most of that funding.

“This is a down payment toward that transition,” said Jon Erickson, professor of sustainability science and policy at the University of Vermont. He says this will help move the country towards an energy-centric economy. “The federal government is helping New England move in an inevitable direction.”

Erickson says there are already 645,000 people working in the region’s energy sector, that’s New England and New York combined, and the law will bolster those long-term jobs. , providing jobs for current UVM students and other students in clean energy.

“Vermont is really well positioned to take advantage of this funding,” said Jane Lazorchak of the Vermont Natural Resources Agency and director of the state’s new climate action office. She says we don’t know exactly how much of the pie we’ll get, but we know what programs it will go to. “Transportation accounts for 40 percent of Vermont’s emissions,” Lazorchak said.

To reduce this, incentive programs around electric vehicles are taking center stage. Legislation will increase electric vehicle incentive offerings, including a $4,000 tax credit for low- and middle-income Vermonters to purchase a used vehicle and an ongoing tax credit $7,500 for a new electric vehicle.

In the building and thermal energy sector, which accounts for about a third of state emissions, there will continue to be funding for energy efficiency and weather protection. “It’s a much harder area to think about how we transform, Lazorchak said.

Low-income Vermonters will have the opportunity to have 100% of the costs covered to create more energy-efficient homes. Moderate-income Vermonters will also continue to have access to tax credits on projects such as heat pumps, solar panels or electrical appliances.

The total pool of money for the agriculture sector nationwide is $20 billion, including funding for “climate-smart agricultural practices.” Lazorchak says it’s about reducing emissions while helping the working landscape’s ability to help fight climate change. There’s also money to track and measure carbon emissions, something Vermont is already diving into in the Payments for Ecosystem Services and Soil Health Task Force.

Lazorchak says the state is already moving in the right direction, but the new funding will provide a much-needed boost. “It gives us greater confidence in our ability to meet our climate goals,” she said.

Erickson agrees but also doesn’t want the state to lose sight of the fact that this is still only a first step. “Is it going fast enough, far enough — no. Hopefully this will spur the real momentum we need,” he said.

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