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Inflation Reduction Act's $300 billion climate spending would benefit mostly red districts

Renewables By Congressional District
Renewables By Congressional District

Now that the Inflation Reduction Act has cleared the U.S. Senate – despite unanimous Republican opposition – the climate and energy spending bill heads to the House. There, it's expected that Democrats will again pass the bill with little to no GOP support. Buta new study shows it delivers big benefits to mostly Republican rural congressional districts in states like Texas.

“Most of the wind in the U.S. is built where the best wind is…through Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas,” said Jeff Davies, co-founder of Enersection, a Houston based company that specializes in date driven analysis of the U.S. energy system.

The bill would invest more than $300 billion in energy in climate reform – the largest federal clean energy investment in U.S. history.

Working with Bloomberg CityLab, Davies found that 70 percent of the spending to build out of wind, solar and large scale energy storage will be in Republican congressional districts in rural and semi-rural areas. Not because of political pork barrel spending but because it makes sense.

“The best wind in the U.S. happens to be in a lot of red and rural districts. But also, renewables generally are sited where there's open land and a lot of those areas are ultimately rural areas or rural-suburban areas,” he said.

This means government incentives for building renewable power will frequently end up in Texas’ Republican held congressional districts. The big winners are the 11th, 13th and 19th. These districts comprise an area that covers the Panhandle down to West Texas and included Midland-Odessa – a fossil fuel hub.

Related: A green boom in rural red Texas

“The analysis showed that there was $107 billion of planned capital investment into renewables in the U.S. and of that $107 billion, $86 billion of it was going into red districts,” he said.

The GOP is firmly against greening the economy, and the economy is moving toward solar and wind while moving away from fossil fuel.

Where the spending is going is counterintuitive based on political support for renewable power, which is mostly by Democrats who live in urban areas. But those areas are population dense and don’t have the space needed for large scale wind and solar production.

“When you really dig into the data, Republican districts are doing far, far more than Democratic districts from the perspective of building out renewable power generation capacity here in the U.S.,” he said. “And it's not even close. Roughly 80% or more of all capacity in the U.S. is going into red districts.”

Republicans argue the climate bill will aggravate inflation. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill will have a "negligible" effect on inflation in 2022 and into 2023.

Related: Democrats pass a major climate, health and tax bill. Here's what's in it

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi