Why don’t 71% of Americans know about the money they can get from the IRA?

Most Americans apparently don’t know about the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy and EV rebates and tax credits, according to a recent poll – here’s why.

Tomorrow will mark a year since President Joe Biden signed the $500 billion Inflation Reduction Act, a game-changing law that’s going to help the US reduce emissions to 50% of their 2005 levels by 2030. It’s packed with clean energy rebates and tax credits to help Americans purchase everything from EVs to electrical appliances to heat pumps.

(And don’t fret about that price tag – the law is expected to raise $737 billion, require total investments of $437 billion, and result in a deficit reduction of more than $300 billion.)

But according to a recent Washington Post–University of Maryland poll, the majority of Americans – 71% – know a little or nothing at all about the IRA or its climate-related incentives.

Two-thirds (67%) of the random national sample of 1,404 adults polled said they knew a little or nothing about the IRA’s federal EV tax credits; further, 66% knew a little or nothing about the 30% tax credit for rooftop solar.

So today, I spoke with Environmental Defense Fund’s Elizabeth Gore, senior vice president of political affairs, about this recent poll reflecting a lack of awareness among Americans about the IRA and how and where the impact of the law would be felt going forward.

Electrek: Why don’t the majority of the people in this poll sample say they don’t know about the IRA?

Elizabeth Gore: The Biden administration has been pretty efficient in getting money out the door and implementing guidelines and regulations – but it’s still early days. The IRA is going to permeate through the economy, and we’re still on the front end of that impact.

Part of the IRA’s strength is its breadth, but it’s hard for many Americans to get their heads around this because people focus on the impact laws have in their own families and communities.

So it’s not surprising to me that it’s going to take a bit longer for individuals to become aware. You’re more likely to take advantage of a tax credit that your uncle tells you about rather than what the newspaper says. It will build on its own success.

Electrek: Should the Biden administration be doing more to get the word out on the street about the benefits that the IRA offers?

Elizabeth Gore: The Biden administration has been very engaged and proactive in trying to push the benefits of this law, so it’s hard for me to be critical. The challenge is that the IRA is made up of hundreds of provisions. The administration and the cabinet have focused on pieces of it, which is the right thing to do, but it takes away from the totality of the IRA.

These new policies are solid on their face, even without the climate angle. For example, people buy EVs for lots of reasons – it could be because they like the way EVs accelerate or because they want to stop spending money on gas. So it’s important to focus on the outcome and not on the path people take to get there.

Electrek: What do you think we’re going to see happen next, now that funds are being distributed at the state level?

Elizabeth Gore: EDF operates in more than a dozen states, and we see a lot of variation in terms of engagement and interest at the state and local levels. Governor DeSantis of Florida turned down funding, but most state officials are interested in creating jobs and reducing emissions. There’s a lot of variation in terms of capacity – some don’t have the people power to immediately dive in and take full advantage of the benefits.

It’s bipartisan legislation, and we’ve seen so many red states, cities, and counties benefit from this law. We’re going to see more and more support for the types of policies that [the IRA] put into place.

Read more: US-made wind and solar components are now cheaper than imports

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