It seems the mainstream narrative is that the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) is a big step toward addressing the climate crisis while the side deal is a step backwards, but we may not be able to stop it. I disagree; from my perspective, the giveaways to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries in the IRA make it most likely a net negative for the environment. Renewable energy has been outcompeting fossil fuels in most places; they are much cheaper than nuclear power everywhere. Won’t giving subsidies to all three help the previously losing industries most? In any case, subsidies for buying outsize electric vehicles, and for expanding renewable energy will not reduce emissions. These projects will require mining, usually connected to environmental injustice, and much burning of fossil fuel to power the construction, transportation and installation, so in the short run they will increase emissions.
Inflation Reduction Act
The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, passed on August 11, 2022, includes more than $370 billion in investments towards conservation, environmental, and agricultural programs. This landmark bill was heralded by President Joe Biden as “the most aggressive action ever…in confronting the climate crisis.” In a letter to House colleagues, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi even proclaimed that the bill is “life-changing legislation”. The Inflation Reduction Act is certainly an important piece of legislation, with many far-reaching impacts on the US food and agriculture sector. Not all of these impacts are good, however, and some are downright ugly.
The Biden administration on Wednesday reinstated nearly $190 million in bids from fossil fuel companies for an oil-and-gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico that had previously been invalidated by a federal judge. The move was one of the compromises struck between Democratic party leaders and pro-fossil-fuel Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia in exchange for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history to date. “Leases resulting from this sale include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential ocean user conflicts,” the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said in a statement Wednesday.
Workers at the Environmental Protection Agency are calling on President Joe Biden to issue a climate emergency declaration at the same time they’re calling for improvements in staffing and resources for the agency in their next union contract. The largest union representing workers at the EPA, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 238—which represents nearly 7,500 EPA employees around the US—voted to declare a climate emergency in May 2022 and are calling on Biden to do the same. AFGE is the largest union representing federal government and District of Columbia employees (currently the membership is about 700,000), though other smaller unions do represent professionals at the EPA.
Appalachia won’t be thrown under the bus in a side deal to climate legislation. That’s why we’re going to the capital this week, for the “Appalachian Resistance Comes to DC“ rally, on September 8. Our message: we’re done with being a sacrifice zone. If you care about climate, you’ve got to care about us too. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s also the only way we can get better climate policies going forward. The wheelers and dealers who negotiated the Inflation Reduction Act need to work with those of us on the ground who lead this fight, rather than against us. The side deal proposed by Senator Joe Manchin includes the undermining of laws that protect us from the fossil fuel industry.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 16, is the biggest investment the U.S. government has made to date in fighting the climate crisis. Yet in order to persuade West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to support the landmark legislation, party leaders made a side deal with the pro-fossil-fuel Senator to pass additional legislation facilitating the permitting process for energy projects, including the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry fracked natural gas 303 miles through West Virginia and Virginia, according to the project website.
The brother El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) once explained, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” The tale of two narratives associated with the recent signing into law of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) accentuates his words at a critical moment. Communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis find themselves entrapped in a cycle of climate cataclysms and cumulative pollution derived from legacy and systemic environmental racism and classism. While attending a meeting in Bogota, Colombia with the newly elected Vice President, Francia Marquez, one of her advisors expressed to me that she was questioning why the demographics of those celebrating passage of a bill purported to address the climate crisis don’t match the demographics of those most impacted by the crisis?
The much-heralded Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), while offering a vital lifeline to the renewable energy industry, also contains massive subsidies to keep dangerously aging atomic power plants operating for years to come. Meanwhile, six decrepit atomic reactors are now caught in a terrifying military crossfire in southeastern Ukraine, showing exactly why it is so important to shut down nuclear plants instead of subsidizing them. The Ukrainian reactors, located at Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, are now being used as a shield for Russian artillery arrays. A single errant shell could send far more atomic radiation pouring over Europe than did Chernobyl, with an unimaginable toll of downwind death and destruction from which the continent might never recover.
Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News analyzes the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act which seeks to address inflation, climate change, and healthcare. The US Senate (and subsequently the House of Representatives) passed the Inflation Reduction Act that seeks to tackle issues of inflation, climate change and health care. Will the provisions in the law actually help address these issues? Will the Democrats gain an electoral advantage in the October mid-terms due to this law? Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News explains.
Rapid City, South Dakota – In response to today’s news that the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, NDN Collective released the following statement: “To say this moment is bittersweet is an understatement,” said Jade Begay, climate justice director at NDN Collective. “On one hand, the IRA – which puts us on track to meet national climate goals by 2030 and will provide much-needed support around health care, jobs, and infrastructure – was only made possible by the tireless organizing of frontline and Indigenous communities, young people, and climate justice advocates. On the other hand, the IRA dismisses fundamental, decades-long demands by Indigenous, Black, Brown, and low income communities to end fossil fuel expansion and invest in a just transition to renewable energy."