May 17 • 56M

It's up to states to implement IRA. Are they ready?

A conversation with Sam Ricketts of Evergreen Action.

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David Roberts
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
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States are central to climate and energy policy. After the failure of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in 2010, states carried the torch of climate policy during the long decade that Democrats were locked out of majority power in Washington, DC. Now that Dems have actually passed some federal policy — and they are unlikely to pass any more anytime soon — states are once again in the spotlight, tasked with implementing that legislation to maximize its effect.

This raises the obvious question of whether states have the administrative capacity — the people, institutions, time, and money — necessary to implement ambitious federal legislation competently.

They do not, says Sam Ricketts, but they could, and there are federal programs that can help them get there.

Sam Ricketts
Sam Ricketts

Nobody is better positioned than Ricketts to address the issue of state readiness. He played a key role in Jay Inslee's pathbreaking presidential campaign, which was built off of successful policies in Washington and other states. Then, as senior strategist for Evergreen Action, a nonprofit he founded with other Inslee veterans, he helped shape the ambitious trio of bills the Democrats have passed in the last year and a half: the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (or as advocates fondly refer to them, Uncles Bill, Chip, and Ira). Now he’s working with Evergreen and the Center for American Progress to educate and prepare state and local lawmakers for the post-IRA world.


I've known Ricketts for years, and there's nobody who better balances detailed knowledge of policy with a practical head for advocacy and activism. I'm excited to talk to him about the crucial role states will play in coming years, the kind of administrative capacity they will need, and the types of federal programs that can fund their capacity building.