The Inflation Reduction Act: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Senate just made the most significant investment in renewable energy in American history. But it includes major giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.

by Ebony Twilley Martin

August 9, 2022

The Senate takes its biggest step ever for climate action, but Manchin is slipping in oil & gas giveaways!

This weekend, the Senate passed the long-awaited reconciliation bill, now called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Let’s be clear — the IRA is a deeply compromised bill that makes necessary investments in clean energy, but matches these policies with others that will hurt communities. The IRA continues to sacrifice frontline communities in the name of fossil fuel industry expansion.

In its current form, the IRA falls woefully short of what is needed to stay below 1.5℃ of global temperature rise. It even falls short of getting to the Biden administration’s own climate goals. What’s worse — fossil fuel-funded Joe Manchin is demanding that along with the IRA, Congress also pass a bill that would greenlight fast tracking of more oil and gas permits. This is the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 – AKA the “permitting reform bill.”

The permitting bill is a straightforward giveaway to the fossil fuel industry. We can’t put out this fire if we keep pouring gasoline on the flames. Senator Schumer must do everything in his power to kill the permitting reform deal. 

Greenpeace US activists bring to life how ExxonMobil controls puppets like Senator Joe Manchin and in turn how Manchin pulls the strings on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in front of the Capitol. Fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil control puppets.

As we hold the core tension of the different sides of the bill, here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know about this package of bills: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

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 would fund a down payment on the good-paying, union jobs necessary for actualizing a just transition off of fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. 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.

The Bad

In a stark juxtaposition to the clean energy provision included in the bill, the IRA also sets aside funds for investments in expensive false-solutions that will extend the lifeline of the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps most importantly, the bill fails to address the root causes of the climate crisis — the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

The Ugly

Since this bill is coal baron Senator Joe Manchin’s brainchild, it is rife with corporate giveaways and handouts aimed at allowing the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual. In doing so, the Inflation Reduction Act 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. Even worse, the permitting side bill would greenlight the fast tracking of more oil and gas permits.

Though the Inflation Reduction Act falls quite short of the broad-reaching, forward-thinking 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, but today is proof that organizing works. Together, we can push our members of Congress to act in the best interest of a climate-safe future where all are able to thrive.

We need Senator Schumer to show that he cares for communities more than fossil fuel industry CEOs. Send a message asking Senator Schumer to stand with communities and ensure the permitting deal does not pass.

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Ebony Twilley Martin

By Ebony Twilley Martin

Ebony Twilley Martin is the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. To win the fight for our planet, this planet - the ONLY planet - the climate movement must be powered by racial justice. That is the reason why Ebony got involved in the environmental justice movement.

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