Hailing the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act by US House of Representatives lawmakers on Friday, climate campaigners and some progressive lawmakers said the $740 billion bill doesn’t do nearly enough to address the worsening climate emergency.
“This bill is not perfect. It contains some troubling provisions, including those that threaten the expansion of fossil fuel production and use.”
“Today we celebrate the power of organization,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, after House lawmakers voted 220-207 along party lines to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The historic bill, which was passed by the Senate earlier this week and President Joe Biden says he will sign into law next week — includes major investments in renewable energy, a minimum tax on large corporations and a landmark requirement for Medicare to directly negotiate prices for some prescription drugs.
“But the science of the climate crisis is not grading the curve — and clearly the IRA is not enough,” she continued. “We need more from our government — and we need better leaders who won’t let the fossil fuel industry stand in our way.”
“As Americans across the country now suffer from record flooding, devastating droughts and deadly heat waves, we need President Biden, Congress and elected officials at all levels to treat this crisis as an emergency,” Prakash added.
Congresswoman Cory 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 action to address the climate crisis and make health care more affordable.”
To be perfectly clear, there are provisions in this bill that I do not support, such as the dangerous expansion of fossil fuels, insufficient protections for environmental expertise, and insufficient investment in environmental justice communities.
Despite these shortcomings, I believe that the benefits this bill provides will ultimately have a profound impact on our ability to address the climate crisis with the urgency it requires. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House, as well as with movement leaders and advocates, to reduce the harm of any provisions that expand the use of fossil fuels and ensure that the good provisions are fairly distributed.
Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, called Friday “a very good day for America,” praising the IRA’s prescription drug and climate provisions in particular.
Still, Weissman said, “there is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching action to prevent climate chaos and to build on the initial installment of the Lower Inflation Act with much greater investment and action to advance environmental justice.”
Weissman added that “there is a need to mitigate harmful fossil fuel measures” in the IRA, “including those that will concentrate pollution and environmental destruction in the Gulf South, Native American lands and communities of color.”
Food & Water Watch noted that “the legislation does not contain any policies requiring emissions reductions, nor does it address measures to limit fossil fuel development.”
“Despite these shortcomings, I believe that the ultimate benefit of this bill will have a profound impact on our ability to address the climate crisis.”
While supporters tout the IRA’s $369 billion in investments in climate and energy security, critics point to the measure’s multibillion-dollar appropriations for carbon sequestration, which Food & Water Watch’s Mitch Jones says exists “solely to keep the fossil fuel industry alive » as the main cause for concern.
In addition, the legislation forces continued fossil fuel leases — and allows for future drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico — in exchange for expanding wind and solar power generation on federal lands.
Union of Concerned Scientists President Joanna Chao Kreylik said “this bill is not perfect. It contains some troubling provisions, including those that threaten the expansion of fossil fuel production and use; and it doesn’t go far enough to fix the many ways that oil and gas companies pollute low-income communities and communities of color.”
“The important foundation provided by the bill must be built on to reduce these impacts, deepen U.S. emissions reductions, and help communities become more resilient to climate change,” she stressed.