Activists point to the need for much more climate action after the IRA’s run through the House

While welcoming U.S. lawmakers’ passage of the Cut Inflation Act on Friday, climate activists and some progressive lawmakers said the $740 billion bill didn’t do enough to cope. to the worsening climate emergency.

“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 landmark bill – which passed the Senate earlier this week and which President Joe Biden said he will sign the law next week – includes major investments in renewable energy development, a minimum tax on big business and a historic requirement for Medicare to directly negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs.

“But the science of the climate crisis does not rank on a 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 are currently suffering from record flooding, crippling droughts and deadly heat waves, we need President Biden, Congress and elected officials at all levels of power to address this crisis as the emergency that it is,” Prakash added.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said in a statement that she was “proud to vote in favor of the Cut Inflation Act, which will take historic and much-needed action to address the climate crisis. and make health care more affordable”.

Bush continued:

To be clear, there are provisions in this bill that I do not support, such as the dangerous expansion of fossil fuels, insufficient environmental review protections, and inadequate investments in environmental justice communities.

Despite these flaws, I believe that ultimately the good that this bill brings 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 the leaders and advocates of the movement, to mitigate the damage caused by any provision that develops fossil fuels and to ensure that the good provisions are fairly distributed.

Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, called Friday “a very good day for America,” particularly praising the IRA’s prescription drug relief and climate provisions.

However, Weissman said that “there is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching action to prevent climate chaos and build on the down payment of the Inflation Reduction Act with much greater investment. importance 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 ecological destruction in the Southern Gulf, Native American lands and in communities. of color”.

Food & Water Watch noted that “the legislation does not include any policies requiring emission reductions and does not address measures to restrict fossil fuel development.”

While supporters tout the IRA’s $369 billion in climate and energy security investments, critics point to the multi-billion dollar allocation for carbon capture – which, according to Mitch Jones of Food & Water Watch, exists “solely to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry” – as a major cause for concern.

Additionally, the legislation mandates continued fossil fuel leases — and allows 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 Johanna Chao Kreilick said, “This bill is not perfect. It contains troubling provisions, some of which risk expanding the extraction and use of fossil fuels; and it doesn’t go far enough to address the myriad ways oil and gas companies pollute low-income communities and communities of color.

“The critical foundation the bill provides must be built to ameliorate those impacts, deepen U.S. emissions reductions, and help communities become more resilient to climate change,” she said.