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Washington State News

Energy Secretary Granholm Makes First Visit to Hanford Cleanup Site

(The Center Square) – Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will make her first visit to the Hanford nuclear reservation on Friday. She will be accompanied by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Edmonds, who pressed the Biden nominee for a commitment to fully fund cleanup efforts during her confirmation hearing in January 2021.

According to the Department of Energy, Granholm will arrive in Richland on Thursday to visit the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, followed by the Aug. 12 tour of the Hanford site.

Prior to arriving in the Tri-Cities, Granholm will visit PNNL’s Sequim office on Wednesday and take a hydropower dam tour on Thursday morning. No public events have been announced.

During her Senate confirmation hearing, Granholm said the environmental cleanup of Hanford property was “urgent.” Under questioning by Cantwell, she committed to requesting a larger budget for that work than was made available during the Trump administration.

Completing cleanup of Hanford will cost an estimated $300 billion to $640 billion, according to a recent DOE report.

Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, has announced that her visit to Washington this week will focus on advancing clean energy deployment following the Senate’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

According to the Department of Energy, the Act underscores President Joe Biden’s commitment  to battle climate change, lower energy and transportation costs for American households, and reinvigorate domestic manufacturing.

Cantwell joined in the 51-50 vote for passage of the Act, with Vice-President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. No Republicans in the Senate supported the legislation out of concerns the $430 billion expenditure on climate, tax and healthcare would drive up existing inflation and impose additional tax burdens on American families and businesses.

The bill is now in the House for consideration.

“This bill will drive down energy costs by implementing cheaper and more efficient energy solutions,” said Cantwell of the legislation.

She said the Act includes funding opportunities that will benefit Washington state.

Among these are historic “investments” in renewable energy, she said.

For example, the bill provides more than $65 billion to extend existing tax credits for renewable energy options, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, municipal waste, and marine and hydrokinetic projects.

In addition, there is a new 30% tax credit for energy storage projects, including pumped hydro facilities like those planned in Washington.

The legislation allocates $2 billion in direct loans for new electric transmission lines, as well as an additional $760 million for grants to help facilitate transmission siting.

Cantwell said the act not only opens up more alternative energy possibilities, it will reduce the average family’s energy bills by a projected $1,025 by 2023. That will be accomplished, she said, through direct consumer incentives to buy energy efficient appliances, install rooftop solar and reduce energy needs in homes.

The bill provides $22 billion to extend consumer tax credits for upgrading residential heat pumps, water heaters, insulation, windows, and other appliances for 10 years. Low income households can receive rebates of up to $14,000 energy efficiency upgrades, and all consumers can receive credits of up to $2,000 for installing heat pumps, or up to $1,200 a year for other home efficiency upgrades.

The Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank, calls the Inflation Reduction Act “the slimmed-down version of the huge Build Back Better tax-and-spend blow-out bill.”

“This BBB-light legislation is now euphemistically called the Inflation Reduction Act,” wrote Roger Stark, a senior fellow at the WPC’s Center for Health Care. “You can call a pig a dog, but the fact remains that the animal is still a pig. The Penn Wharton Budget Model predicts the impact of the law on inflation will be essentially zero. And any potential effect on inflation would be years away, providing no relief for Americans now experiencing the worst inflation in decades.”

He added, “Funding for the legislation comes from basically two sources – new or unpaid taxes and drug savings in the Medicare program. There will be a new levy on 1% of company stock buybacks – i.e. a tax on capital. It’s naïve, or worse, to believe that the 1% won’t be increased in the future. In addition, there will be a new 15% minimum tax on larger corporations. As usual, that tax will be passed on to consumers and stockholders. The IRS will also be adding thousands of new agents to extract every last penny of taxes from individual taxpayers.”

Stark also sounded a warning about the long-term effects of the legislation.

“The Democrats had no mandate from the American public to pass this disaster,” he wrote. “The legislation is totally partisan, will do nothing to decrease inflation, will stifle the development of new drugs, will spend billions of dollars on green energy which will have virtually zero effect on climate change, will raise everyone’s cost of living, and ultimately will force more government intrusion into the lives of every American.”