The U.S. passed the long-awaited reconciliation bill, ultimately called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the end, and it makes the most significant investment in renewable energy in American history. But it also includes major giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and continues to sacrifice frontline communities in the name of expanding toxic, polluting energy.
As we hold this core tension of the different sides of the legislation, here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know about these bills: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Inflation Reduction Act authorizes billions of dollars in sorely-needed investments for renewable energy projects and technologies like electric vehicle infrastructure, heat pumps, and advanced grid technologies. It will fund a down payment on the good-paying, union jobs necessary for actualizing a just transition off fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy.
And the IRA provides billions in funding for environmental justice communities, but we need to continue advocating for higher levels of funding extended for use over the next decade that’s more accessible to the communities that need it most.
In a stark juxtaposition to the clean energy investments in the bill, the IRA also sets aside funds for investments in expensive false-solutions that will extend a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry.
“The Inflation Reduction Act includes much needed investment in renewable energy, and a down payment on the union jobs we need to propel a green economy. But it is also a slap in the face to the frontline communities, grassroots groups, and activists that made this legislation possible.” —Ebony Martin in Greenpeace USA’s statement on the bill’s passage
Perhaps most importantly, the bill fails to address the root causes of the climate crisis—the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
To win support from coal baron Senator Joe Manchin, it is rife with corporate giveaways and handouts aimed at allowing the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual. In doing so, the IRA continues to sacrifice historically underserved communities that have been systematically oppressed by colonialism and environmental racism. These are the same communities that are currently bearing the worst impacts from fossil fuel infrastructure and experiencing the brunt of climate damage.
Though the Inflation Reduction Act falls short of the broad-reaching climate action necessary for thwarting the worst of the climate crisis, all hope is not lost. Our movement is diverse and powerful. We have the power to push oily politicians like Joe Manchin into action. In the meantime, President Joe Biden has the executive power to catalyze bold climate action by declaring a climate emergency and stopping the expansion of fossil fuels.
The fight is not over! We still have so much more work ahead of us in the fight for climate justice. Together, we can push our members of Congress and President Biden to act in the best interest of a climate-safe future where all communities are able to thrive.
We Passed a Climate Bill … With a Dirty Deal??
The Inflation Reduction Act was in part passed in exchange for a backroom handshake-deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin. This deal is an attempt to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to fast track harmful fossil fuel projects. NEPA is one of the main tools that communities have to make their voices heard in opposition to projects that will affect them, and the permitting reform is attempting to silence frontline voices, particularly those of Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income, and/or rural communities that so many of these infrastructure projects harm.
Greenpeace mobilized immediately—even before the details of the bill were leaked—urging members of Congress to stand against this destructive power grab and join millions of Americans fighting to stop this dirty deal. And thanks to millions of people like you, we succeeded in stripping the Dirty Deal from must-pass government funding legislation.
This is a victory for anyone who enjoys breathing clean air and drinking clean water. This proposal was not “permitting reform”—it was a handout to the companies that continue to be caught red-handed attempting to delay climate action and silence community protectors. We know that Big Oil and their backers in Congress will try to sneak the Dirty Deal through Congress again before the end of the year. That’s why we need to build on this victory and, through people power, demand an end to backroom deals that sacrifice the health and safety of our communities at the altar of Big Oil profits.