The New BBB: Ocean Provisions and Next Steps

Updated: Aug 25

Update: President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law during a signing ceremony at the White House on August 16.


In August, Democrats in Congress passed an almost $740 billion reconciliation package called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The Act raises corporate taxes, boosts IRS enforcement, extends healthcare subsidies for three years, reduces the federal deficit, and provides hundreds of billions of dollars for climate change programs.



According to a joint statement issued by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) when they released the bill, which they negotiated in secret, the IRA will “fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.”


See the final bill text here and a one-pager here. Read on for our analysis of the bill’s ocean-related provisions and next steps.


Background

Negotiations among Democrats over what to include in this bill – previously called the Build Back Better (BBB) Act – stalled repeatedly over the last year due to objections from moderate Democrats including Senators Manchin and Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ). While the original BBB Act began as a $3.5 trillion bill, it was cut back to $1.75 trillion over such concerns (see our summary of related BBB provisions here). Despite passing the House, BBB never made it to the Senate floor.


The release of the IRA bill text from Schumer and Manchin in late July came after Manchin appeared to walk away from negotiations earlier this summer. The announcement seemed to surprise even Senate Democrats, including Sinema, who required some amendments to the bill before committing her support. The bill passed the Senate through a process known as Budget Reconciliation, which allows a bill to pass by a simple 51-vote majority and also triggers a process informally called “vote-a-rama” in which Senators can offer hundreds of amendments to a bill. While the IRA vote-a-rama lasted almost 19 hours, the Senate passed the bill on Sunday, August 7 in a 51-50 party-line vote with Vice President Harris breaking a 50-50 tie.


The House returned from its August recess to consider the IRA on Friday, August 12, ultimately passing the bill in a 220-207 party-line vote with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. President Biden signed the bill into law on Tuesday, August 16.


What’s in it for oceans?

Here are some highlights from ocean-related IRA provisions.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • $2.6 billion over four years for:

  • Coastal restoration and habitat protection, including fisheries

  • Enabling coastal communities to prepare for extreme storms and changing climate conditions

  • Projects that support natural resources that sustain coastal and marine resource dependent communities

  • $150 million to accelerate advances in research, observation systems, modeling, forecasting, assessments, and dissemination of information to the public as it pertains to ocean and atmosphere processes related to weather, coasts, oceans, and climate

  • $50 million for competitive grants to fund climate research as it relates to weather, ocean, coastal, and atmospheric processes and conditions, and impacts to marine species and coastal habitat

  • $150 million for oceanic and atmospheric forecasting, and $150 million for NOAA facilities, including fisheries laboratories

  • $20 million for more efficient, accurate, and timely reviews for planning, permitting, and approval processes

  • $190 million for procurement of additional high-performance computing, data processing capacity, data management, and storage assets

  • $150 million for construction of new facilities

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM): Offshore Wind

  • Withdraws President Trump’s 10-year restrictions on offshore energy leasing off North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and opens US territories for offshore wind development

  • $100 million over nine years for expenses associated with convening stakeholders to address development of interregional electricity transmission generated by offshore wind, and to conduct planning, modeling, and analysis

  • Includes various credits for offshore wind facilities, construction, and vessels

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Decarbonizing Ports

  • $3 billion billion over five years for EPA to award rebates and grants for zero-emission port equipment and technology and the planning and permitting for moving towards emissions reduction at ports (language from related bills S. 216 / H.R. 862)

  • $750 million of which is reserved specifically for ports with lower air quality

  • $60 million over nine years for grants, loans, and rebates to identify and reduce diesel emissions resulting from goods movement facilities in low-income and disadvantaged communities


Next Steps

Agencies will go through a process to determine how they will spend these funds, similar to the process they went through in 2021 after the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58). Our team will continue to track this process and keep our clients informed about updates and expected timing.

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