President Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. After decades of advocates, policymakers and activists pushing for laws that match resources to the true scale of the climate crisis, we are on the road to real climate solutions.
This is really important. The Inflation Reduction Act is a tremendous 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 provides the tools we need to replace our dirty and unsustainable fossil fuel economy with a clean energy future that will improve health, secure justice, restore the planet and create new jobs in the process.
While there is much to celebrate, there is much to mourn: The IRA contains provisions that will do immediate damage and slow our long-term climate progress. The fossil fuel industry has convinced its allies in Congress to include toxic alms and sweet deals that threaten to put fossil fuels further into our economy, exposing frontline communities even more pollution, and indeed delay climate progress.
As an organization that uses the power of the law to advance justice for people and our planet, it is our responsibility to ensure that we both secure the positive potential of the IRA’s beneficial investments and prevent damage from new fossil fuel subsidies. it has already suffered a lot at the hands of polluting industries. This means ensuring that federal and state governments implement IRA investments fairly and fairly while tackling every effort to expand or prolong our use of fossil fuels. It also means strongly opposing efforts to weaken fundamental environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which protects communities.
So for Earthjustice, work is just getting started. Here is what we will do:
- We will level the playing field for renewable resources. The IRA provides transformative investments in clean energy, but it will take more than that to transform our economy. Fossil-fuel dinosaurs have spent decades creating barriers to entry to renewables: taxes, rules, and sweet deals that protect them from real financial competition with the renewable energy industry. Why? Why? Because when they come together on equal terms, 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 the fossil industries and give communities the clean power they deserve.
- We will fight for a just and equitable energy transition that leaves no community behind. The IRA commits $60 billion to support communities at the forefront of pollution and climate change. Pollution and climate change have disproportionately affected communities of color and low-income communities for too long. These funds will help clean up Super Fund sites, improve air monitoring capacity, reduce emissions at ports and invest directly in community-led initiatives through Environment and Climate Justice block grants. Earthjustice will help its partners secure this funding so they can address long-standing environmental damage and make positive changes in their communities.
- We will fight like hell against donations and tax credits for fossil fuel infrastructure – including offshore drilling. Earthjustice will redouble its efforts to support targeted community partners as the fossil industries seek to expand their footprints while they still can. The IRA holds the development of offshore wind power pledges for extended onshore oil and gas leasing as well as offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Drilling for more oil won’t lower gas prices, but it will increase our emissions and do more harm to communities, including Gulf communities that depend on clean offshore waters for their livelihoods and lifestyles. Earthjustice has represented these communities to prove time and time again that offshore drilling violates our environmental laws, and we will not stop. Communities in the Gulf deserve a just transition to well-paid jobs and a strong economy, not more fossil fuel projects that will prolong air and water pollution.
- We will speak the truth to power about what needs to be done to truly end our dependence on fossil fuels. We will speak the truth to power about what needs to be done to truly end our dependence on fossil fuels. The IRA provides support for technologies such as carbon capture and blue hydrogen that continue to depend on fossil fuels and shift the focus from real climate solutions such as renewable energy and electrification. Earthjustice will partner with these communities to challenge any proposal that threatens their future.
- We will combat attempts to weaken fundamental environmental laws such as NEPA. Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi reportedly promised a “side deal” aimed at shortening permitting processes by reducing NEPA requirements to engage directly with people and communities affected by the projects. While we need to build cleaner energy infrastructure—faster—true permit reform requires investments in communication and access to communities, not shortcuts. We will encourage congressional leaders to vote against any permissive side agreement that undermines public participation, while advocating for real solutions that center the voices of the community, such as Environmental Justice for All.
- We will demand that the Biden administration use the full power of the federal government to protect public health and combat climate change. Investments in the IRA are transformative, but we need a whole government approach to meet our emissions reduction goals and protect overburdened communities. This requires President Biden to implement a robust set of executive actions that will help us achieve greater emissions reductions and help the communities most affected by our continued dependence on fossil fuels.
Investments in the Inflation Reduction Act give us the opportunity to do what the fossil fuel industry could never do. We can build the clean energy infrastructure of the future while building railings to protect the places 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 and equitable way possible, and fervently combats any bad provision that jeopardizes the lives, livelihoods and health of frontline communities. We cannot afford to wait for our future.