The biggest piece of news really dominating the climate world these days is that we are one step closer to passing the biggest piece of climate legislation in US history–also known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)–as the senate passed the bill 51-50 (all D’s in favor + VP Harris, all R’s against). Barring unforeseen circumstances, the bill should get passed in the House and then signed by Biden, and then it’s law.
A lot of people are really, really happy about this; As I wrote about last week, this bill will put the US on the path towards reducing emissions towards the 2030 goal, and it’s a sign of real momentum for the movement.
However, the IRA does not come close to fulfilling a lot of goals laid out in the original Green New Deal, or even the Build Back Better bill from 2021: Most notably, there were significant cuts to funds set aside for climate justice initiatives, disproportionately affecting BIPOC communities already carrying high environmental burdens, as well as allow for the continuation of existing of fossil fuel projects and the construction of new ones. In this clip from PBS Newshour, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr (from the Hip Hop Caucus) explains that this bill was “critical for humanity” but also names the Gulf Coast, Appalachia, and Alaska as examples of “sacrifice zones” embedded in the IRA, and comments on how it’s disturbing to set a precedent on who gets protected and who doesn’t within climate legislation. Echoing many others, he says that despite its flaws, the IRA is “a start in the right direction.”
Now, though, is the time to absolutely listen to those who are saying the IRA does not go far enough–listen and advocate for the policies and solutions that would put us on the path for an equitable and just livable future.
On that note, here are some resources and actions to check out to see how we can keep pushing forward on addressing the climate crisis, especially where the IRA fails to reach or actively puts in harm’s way:
350.org petition to remove Manchin as Chairman of Energy & Natural Resources Committee