RUTHERFORD — Rep. Mike Thompson held a press conference with several Napa leaders at the Honig Vineyard and Winery on Wednesday to highlight how provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden last week, will take on climate change.
Thompson noted that the bill is wide-ranging — it will also reduce prescription drug costs, health costs and the federal deficit — but he wanted to highlight the action on climate change because it’s “the number one issue we face as a people today.”
“If we get everything else right and we fix every problem that is in front of us, but we don’t get the climate change part done, we’re going to be in big trouble,” Thompson said. “So it is important that we deal with this.”
To make a point about the increasing impacts of climate change and the importance of taking it on now, Thompson referenced the current drought in the western United States, the damage caused by major wildfires, and the mass flooding currently occurring in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
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The bill includes a roughly $370 billion investment in tax credits and pro-climate spending, intended to incentivize a movement into renewable energy, Thompson said. He also said the majority of the climate provisions included in the act are from his 2021 Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act.
“Action is long overdue, and this bill is the most significant climate change legislation to ever pass congress and be signed into law,” Thompson said.
Thompson was joined by Michael Honig; Napa County Supervisor and chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Alfredo Pedroza; Napa County Office of Education Superintendent Barbara Nemko; Napa Valley Transportation Authority board chair and Napa City Councilmember Liz Alessio; Napa Climate NOW! cofounder Linda Brown; and American Canyon High School student Elo Mudaavanha, a member of Napa Schools for Climate Action.
Nemko noted that Napa County had two all-electric school busses back in the late ‘90s, and purchased six diesel hybrid busses in 2000. But, owing to their outdated technology, those busses are no longer serving Napa schools. The Inflation Adjustment Act will soon open up room for the NCOE to buy some new electric busses, Nemko said.
“Now we have the opportunity to change some of our fleet and get some all-electric busses,” Nemko said. “This is the most exciting thing that’s happened in school transportation in quite a while.”
Honig noted that the press conference was being held in front of a solar array the family installed at the winery in 2006, which at the time was the biggest in the county, with over 800 panels, he said. But, owing to degradation of the panels over time, it makes economic sense to replace them, Honig added. Originally, Honig said he was intending to hold off on replacing the panels for a while because of the upfront cost. But tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act encouraged him to move forward with replacing them, he said.
“We were going to hold off for a little while, and then, with the passing of the bill, I just decided this week — and we’re going to sign a contract on Friday — to replace all of this,” Honig said. “That extra money does help a family business get to the next generation. So that’s why I’m so excited about what the congressman has been able to achieve.”
Alessio said, as the chair of the NVTA board, the investment from the bill will allow the NVTA to accelerate replacing its fleet to 100% electric by 2030. She noted that climate change is a contributor to the fires Napa County has seen in the past several years.
“As a fourth generation resident of this beautiful valley, I feel the hope that we are on the path to combat climate change, to significantly reduce climate pollutants, to ultimately reverse global warming, and to protect the special biodiversity that we are blessed to have here in the Napa Valley,” Alessio said.
Mudaavanha noted the efforts from Napa Schools For Climate Action leaders have had in encouraging Napa’s municipalities to pass climate emergency resolutions that established a goal of reaching net-zero climate pollution by 2030. But he urged people to continue to take on climate change.
“As we celebrate our victories, we must also prepare for the battles we have yet to face,” Mudaavanha said. “We may live in a time of uncertainty and change, but more than that, we live in an unprecedented time of historical relevancy. These are the times our children will read about in their history tablets. As we move forward, we must not forget that our future and legacy hangs in the balance.”
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You can reach Edward Booth at 707-256-2213.