High atop Table Mesa in southwest Boulder, visitors to the National Center for Atmospheric Research enjoy more than just a panoramic view.
From the vantage point of the iconic I.M. Pei-designed building, its parking lot and the many trails that lead from it, visitors can see firsthand the devastating effects of climate change.
The site in December 2021 offered a horrific view of flames from the Marshall Fire, the costliest wildfire in Colorado history, destroying almost 1,100 homes and seven businesses in Louisville, Superior and unincorporated Boulder County.
Just over a ridge from the NCAR parking lot, the NCAR Fire burned 190 acres near Bear Canyon Trail in March, threatening homes in south Boulder.
And the mesa itself often is nestled in the haze of locally sourced pollution or wildfires from far afield, as smoke from fires in California, Arizona or other western states settles along the Front Range of Colorado.
Beetle kill is visible in trees along the foothills, brought on by rising temperatures.
Efforts to combat such events received a significant boost, Aug. 16, when President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, providing $370 billion to address climate change, the largest such investment in history.
“This is a real big deal,” said Antonio Busalacchi, president of NCAR, which employs about 1,400 people, including 1,000 in Boulder. “The IRA is projected to significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Underpinning that, it’s investing in crucial research in climate and weather, as well as emerging green technologies, in incentivizing changes in technologies, manufacturing, consumer processes. It’s kind of a very holistic approach.”
A study commissioned by the BlueGreen Alliance from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says that the act could create more than 9 million jobs over the next 10 years.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes:
- Extension of tax credits for solar and wind projects for 10 years, with extension of credits to battery-storage, hydrogen and other new technologies.
- Extension of tax credit benefits — through grants, loans or other means — to municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives. See related story.
- Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles.
- Funds to strengthen climate resilience in national forests.
- Rebates for new electric appliances, including efficient heat pumps, ovens, water heaters, clothes dryers and stoves.
- Tax credits for community solar projects.
- Measures to boost domestic manufacturing of clean technologies.