Because climate science 'does not grade on a curve,' experts says IRA not enough
While welcoming U.S. House lawmakers' passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, climate campaigners and some progressive lawmakers said the $740 billion bill does not do nearly enough to address the worsening climate emergency.
"Today, we celebrate the power of organizing," Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said after House lawmakers voted 220-207 along party lines to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The historic bill—which was passed in the Senate earlier this week and which President Joe Biden says he will sign into law next week—includes major investments in renewable energy development, a minimum tax on large corporations, and a landmark requirement for Medicare to directly negotiate the prices of some prescription drugs.
"But the science of the climate crisis does not grade on a curve—and it's clear that the IRA is not enough," she continued. "We need more from our government—and we need better leaders who will not let the fossil fuel industry stand in our way."
"As Americans across the country suffer right now from record flooding, crippling droughts, and deadly heatwaves, we need President Biden, Congress, and elected officials at every level of office to treat this crisis like the emergency that it is," Prakash added.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said in a statement that she was "proud to vote in support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will take historic and much-needed actions to address the climate crisis and make healthcare more affordable."
To be crystal clear, there are provisions in this bill that I do not support, such as the dangerous expansion of fossil fuels, insufficient protections of environmental review, and inadequate investments in environmental justice communities.
Despite these flaws, I believe that ultimately the good that this bill delivers, will have a profound effect on our ability to address the climate crisis with the urgency it demands. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House, as well as with movement leaders and advocates, to mitigate harm from any provisions that expand fossil fuels, and to ensure that the good provisions are equitably distributed.
Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, called Friday "a very good day for America," lauding the IRA's prescription drug relief and climate provisions in particular.
However, Weissman said that "there is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching measures to prevent climate chaos and to build on the Inflation Reduction Act's down payment with far greater investments in and measures to advance environmental justice."
Weissman added that "there is a need to mitigate the harmful pro-fossil fuel measures" in the IRA, "including those which will concentrate pollution and ecological destruction on the Gulf South, Native American lands, and in communities of color."
Food & Water Watch noted that "the legislation does not include any policies that require emissions reductions, and does not address measures to restrict fossil fuel development."
While proponents tout the IRA's $369 billion in climate and energy security investments, critics point to measure's multibillion-dollar allocation for carbon capture—which Food & Water Watch's Mitch Jones says exists "solely to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry"—as a major cause for concern.
Moreover, the legislation forces a continuation of fossil fuel leases—and enables future drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico—in exchange for expanding wind and solar energy production on federal lands.
Union of Concerned Scientists president Johanna Chao Kreilick said that "this bill is not perfect. It contains some troubling provisions, including some that risk expanding fossil fuel extraction and use; and it doesn't go far enough to remedy the myriad ways in which oil and gas companies are polluting low-income communities and communities of color."
"The critical foundation the bill provides must be built upon to ameliorate those impacts, deepen U.S. emission reductions, and help communities become more resilient to climate change," she stressed.
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