The landmark climate legislation passed by the Senate after months of wrangling and weakening by fossil-fuel friendly Democrats will lead to more harm than good, according to frontline community groups who are calling on Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency.
If signed into law, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) would allocate $369bn to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and invest in renewable energy sources – a historic amount that scientists estimate will lead to net reductions of 40% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
It would be the first significant climate legislation to be passed in the US, which is historically responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country.
But the bill makes a slew of concessions to the fossil fuel industry, including mandating drilling and pipeline deals that will harm communities from Alaska to Appalachia and the Gulf coast and tie the US to planet-heating energy projects for decades to come.
“Once again, the only climate proposal on the table requires that the communities of the Gulf south bear the disproportionate cost of national interests bending a knee to dirty energy – furthering the debt this country owes to the South,” said Colette Pichon Battle from Taproot Earth Vision (formerly Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy).
“Solving the climate crisis requires eliminating fossil fuels, and the Inflation Reduction Act simply does not do this,” said Steven Feit, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (Ciel).
Overall, many environmental and community groups agree that while the deal will bring some long-term global benefits by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not enough and consigns communities already threatened by sea level rise, floods and extreme heat to further misery.
The bill is a watered-down version of Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better bill which was blocked by every single Republican and also conservative Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both received significant campaign support from fossil fuel industries. West Virginia’s Manchin, in particular, is known for his close personal ties to the coal sector.
“This was a backdoor take-it-or-leave-it deal between a coal baron and Democratic leaders in which any opposition from lawmakers or frontline communities was quashed. It was an inherently unjust process, a deal which sacrifices so many communities and doesn’t get us anywhere near where we need to go, yet is being presented as a saviour legislation,” said Jean Su, energy justice program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The IRA, which includes new tax provisions to pay for the historic $739bn climate and healthcare spending package, has been touted as a huge victory for the Biden administration as the Democrats gear up for a tough ride in the midterm elections, when they face losing control of both houses of Congress.
The spending package will expedite expansion of the clean…
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