The following provides an overview of key sections in the Inflation Reduction Act that apply to environmental. The goal of this legislation is to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
Agricultural Conservation Investments (pgs. 527-535)
Funds are appropriated for FY23-FY26, with funds to remain available until the end of FY31. Funds are appropriated to carry out the conservation stewardship program, using the facilities and authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the environmental quality incentives program in the Food Security Act of 1985 (FSA).
In this section, we see that the Secretary prioritizes proposals that utilize diet and feed management to reduce enteric methane emissions from ruminants. In addition, the Secretary will target projects and activities that mitigate or address climate change through the management of agricultural production, including by reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. Outside of the end goal of the project, projects that leverage corporate supply chain sustainability commitments or
utilize models that pay for outcomes from targeting methane and nitrous oxide emissions associated with agricultural production systems may be prioritized. The funds appropriated shall be available for one or more agricultural conservation practices or enhancements that the Secretary determines directly improve soil carbon or reduce nitrogen losses or greenhouse gas emissions, or capture or sequester greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production.
Conservation Innovation Grants
Beyond this new legislation, additional money is provided for Conservation Innovation Grants, as laid out in FSA. These competitive grants are intended to stimulate innovative approaches to leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production or forest resource management. Eligible uses of these funds include:
- Involve producers who are eligible for payments or technical assistance under the program or community colleges carrying out demonstration projects on land of the community college;
- Leverage Federal funds made available to carry out the program with matching funds provided by State and local governments and private organizations to promote environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production;
- Ensure efficient and effective transfer of innovative technologies and approaches demonstrated through projects that receive funding, such as market systems for pollution reduction and practices for the storage of carbon in soil;
- Provide environmental and resource conservation benefits through increased participation by producers of specialty crops;
- Partner with farmers to develop innovative practices for urban, indoor, or other emerging agricultural operations;
- Utilize edge-of-field and other monitoring practices on farms;
- Facilitate on-farm conservation research and demonstration activities; and
- Facilitate pilot testing of new technologies or innovative conservation practices.
Further guidance is given to allow the Secretary to provide funding to producers to implement practices to address air quality concerns from agricultural operations and to meet Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements.
Conservation Technical Assistance (pgs. 536 and 537)
Additional funds are appropriated to provide conservation technical assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service and to carry out a carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions quantification program. This program will collect field-based data to assess the carbon sequestration and greenhouse has emissions reduction outcomes and use the data to monitor and track emission and sequestration trends through the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Assessment Program of USDA.
Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants (pgs. 694-696)
Grants can be awarded for periods of up to three years for the following activities:
- Community-led air and other pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation, and investments in low- and zero-emission and resilient technologies and related infrastructure and workforce development that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants;
- Mitigating climate and health risks from urban heat islands, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfire events;
- Climate resiliency and adaptation;
- Reducing indoor toxics and indoor air pollution; or
- Facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities in State and Federal public processes, including facilitating such engagement in advisory groups, workshops, and rulemakings.
Eligible entities for these grants are: A partnership between an Indian tribe, a local government, or an institution of higher education AND a community-based nonprofit organization; a community-based nonprofit organization; and a partnership of community-based nonprofit organizations