Today, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, a long-awaited bill with transformative climate, energy, and environmental provisions.
Research group Energy Innovation estimates that for every ton of carbon this bill adds to the atmosphere, the Inflation Reduction Act will remove 24 tons. Though this ratio is favorable mathematically, these benefits come with public health and climate costs to frontline communities—a great injustice. Forthcoming BLM and EPA emissions protections must strongly and directly address this inequity.
“Today, we celebrate. But we do so with clear hearts and minds. The Inflation Reduction Act provides game-changing investments in clean energy, but also props up the oil and gas industry. Fortunately, the Biden administration can leverage existing, well-established legal authorities to avoid, minimize, and compensate for ongoing exploitation of the country’s shared public lands for fossil fuels,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. “We urge the administration to take advantage of the roadmap we’ve already provided them to do just that. With the Inflation Reduction Act, the administration must use its new and longstanding executive authorities to solidify its commitment to protect 30% of our country’s lands and waters by 2030 and to deliver on environmental justice.”
As analyses from the International Energy Agency, U.N. Environment Programme, and Oil Change International have found, new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with U.S. and global climate commitments.
“As the scientific analysis shows, we must stop developing new oil and gas infrastructure and wind down existing infrastructure through a swift, just, and equitable transition,” said Schlenker-Goodrich. “This means fair and effective implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s tools and resources. But it also means building the case now for future action,” Schlenker-Goodrich added. “The federal government can play a key role in reducing the dependency of oil and gas producing states such as New Mexico on federal oil and gas revenue. Senator Martin Heinrich and Representative Teresa Leger-Fernandez have recognized this need. Such dependency anchors oil and gas producing states to volatile boom-and-bust production cycles, the whims of petrostate tyrants, and the power of oil and gas companies–all at the expense of the public interest.”
“We must also defeat wrong-headed legislative side-deals, such as so-called permitting ‘reforms’ that are little more than a hodge-podge from industry wish lists,” said Schlenker-Goodrich. “There’s an opportunity to strengthen the effectiveness and agility of agency decision-making to meet the imperative to build out a renewables-based energy economy. But the legislative side deal now on the table doesn’t achieve that aim and, instead, risks weakening climate justice, environmental, and community safeguards.”
Our previous statement about “permitting reforms” associated with the IRA’s passage.