President Biden just signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. After decades of advocates, policymakers and activists pushing for legislation that matches resources to the true scale of the climate crisis, we are on a path to real climate solutions.
This is a big deal. The Inflation Reduction Act is a great opportunity to confront the climate crisis by making transformative investments in clean energy and the communities most affected by pollution and the climate crisis. It gives us the tools we need to replace our dirty and unsustainable fossil fuel economy with a clean energy future that will improve health, ensure justice, restore the planet and create new jobs in this process.
While there is much to celebrate, there is also much to mourn: The IRA contains provisions that will cause immediate harm and slow our long-term climate progress. The fossil fuel industry convinced their allies in Congress to include poisonous handouts and sweetheart deals that threaten to further entrench fossil fuels in our economy, expose frontline communities to even more pollution, and actually late climate progress.
As an organization that uses the power of law to advance justice for people and our planet, it is our responsibility to ensure that we secure the positive potential of beneficial IRA investments and prevent new fossil fuel subsidies from harming communities. who have already suffered greatly at the hands of polluting industries. This means ensuring that federal and state governments apply IRA investments equitably and fairly while fighting any effort to expand or prolong our use of fossil fuels. It also means strong opposition to efforts to weaken core environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that protect communities.
That’s why, for Earthjustice, the work is just beginning. Here’s what we’ll do:
- We will level the playing field for renewables. The IRA offers transformative investments in clean energy, but it will take more than that to transform our economy. The fossil fuel dinosaurs have spent decades creating barriers to entry for renewables: taxes, regulations and sweetheart deals that shield them from real financial competition with the renewables industry. Why? Because when they meet on a level playing field, renewables win. Earthjustice and our partners will continue to attack these barriers in court and before state and federal energy regulators, so we can break the power of fossil industries and give communities the clean power they deserve.
- We will fight for a fair and equitable energy transition that leaves no community behind. IRA commits $60 billion to support communities on the front lines of pollution and climate change. For too long, pollution and climate change have disproportionately affected communities of color and low-income communities. These funds will help clean up Superfund sites, improve air monitoring capacity, reduce emissions at ports, and directly invest in community-led initiatives through environmental and climate justice block grants. Earthjustice will help its partners secure this funding so they can address long-term environmental damage and make positive changes in their communities.
- We will fight like hell against giveaways and tax credits for fossil fuel infrastructure – including giveaways for offshore drilling. Earthjustice will redouble its efforts to support community partners in question as fossil industries try to expand their footprint while they can. The IRA holds offshore wind energy development liens on expanded onshore oil and gas leases, as well as offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Drilling for more oil will not lower gas prices, but will increase our emissions and cause further damage to communities – including Gulf communities that depend on clean offshore waters for their livelihoods and way of life . Earthjustice has represented those communities to prove, time and again, that offshore drilling violates our environmental laws, and we won’t stop. Gulf communities deserve a just transition to good-paying jobs and a strong economy, not more fossil fuel projects that will continue to pollute their air and water.
- We will speak truth to power about what it takes to truly end our dependence on fossil fuels. We will speak truth to power about what it takes to truly end our dependence on fossil fuels. The IRA provides support for technologies – such as carbon capture and blue hydrogen – that continue dependence on fossil fuels and shift the focus away from real climate solutions such as renewables and electrification. Earthjustice will work with those communities to challenge any proposal that threatens their future.
- We will fight efforts to weaken basic environmental laws like NEPA. Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have reportedly promised a “side deal” aimed at shortening permitting processes by reducing NEPA’s requirements to engage directly with people and communities affected by projects. While we need to build more clean energy infrastructure – fast – real permitting reform requires investments in outreach and engagement with communities, not shortcuts. We will urge congressional leaders to vote against any permissive side deals that undermine public engagement, while advocating for real solutions that center community voices like the Environmental Justice for All Act.
- We will demand that the Biden administration use the full power of the federal government to protect community health and fight climate change. Investments in IRAs are transformative, but to achieve our emissions reduction targets and protect overburdened communities, we need a whole-of-government approach. This requires President Biden to implement a series of strong executive actions that will help us achieve greater emissions reductions and help those communities most affected by our continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Investing in the Inflation Reduction Act gives us the opportunity to do what the fossil fuel industry never did. We can build the clean energy infrastructure of the future while also installing guardrails to protect the countries and communities most affected by development. We can work to ensure that the Biden administration implements the climate provisions of this new law in the most effective, fair way possible, while vigorously fighting any bad provisions that endanger the lives, livelihoods, and health of communities along the line. first. For the sake of our future, we cannot afford to wait.