The Inflation Reduction Act Is a Step in the Right Direction But By No Means Adequate to Address the Climate Crisis
350 Bay Area Action is gratified that the Senate has finally produced a bill containing provisions that will help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for the climate crisis. There are many good things in this bill, and some really terrible ones. It has the potential to make significant reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions. Yet it is inadequate to fully address the climate crisis that we’re in, and it locks in fossil fuel expansion, something we absolutely don’t need and that is the exact opposite of where we need to go.
Some of the Good Things In the Bill:
- Purports to cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 40% by 2030.
- Contains tax credits for EVs ($4000 used, $7500 new).
- Contains $30 billion in production tax credits for manufacturing solar, wind, batteries & minerals.
- Contains $10 billion for clean energy manufacturing.
- Has a methane reduction program for FFs to reduce leaks (rewards companies that do, penalizes those that don’t).
- Sets a progressive price on methane.
- Includes a Clean Energy & Sustainable Accelerator/Green Bank, with 60% allocated to disadvantaged communities.
- Contains $27 billion for reducing diesel heavy-duty vehicles, and $1 billion to clean up ports.
- Includes $60 billion for environmental justice and disadvantaged communities across all of the programs.
Some of the Bad Things In the Bill
- Mandates new oil & gas lease leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Coast of Alaska.
- Supports biogas, which is methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
- The Methane Emissions Reduction Program lacks mandatory oversight and relies on self-reporting.
- Supports carbon capture and storage and direct air capture, with no restriction for using captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery. (However, it requires that 75% of carbon be captured to be eligible for tax incentives/rebates, which is a rigorous standard.)
- Fails to differentiate between clean, green hydrogen made through electrolysis and blue hydrogen made with methane.
This bill is very controversial, and the environmental justice community is deeply divided over whether it should pass. Some support it because it contains significant provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it represents the largest spending ever proposed for climate mitigation in the US, and because they believe it is probably the best we can do at this moment, especially with the midterm elections coming up. However, vulnerable communities, especially those near the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska, oppose it because they feel that under this bill they are being sacrificed for a political win. We at 350 Bay Area Action are not taking a position on it because of the controversy surrounding it.
We Still Need President Biden to Declare a Climate Emergency
Because the Inflation Reduction Act contains provisions that will lock us into fossil fuel production, and because its positive provisions are inadequate to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as mandated by the Paris Accords, its passage does not obviate the need for President Biden to declare a Climate Emergency and use the expanded emergency executive powers available to him as a result to ramp up our production of renewable energy resources and phase out fossil fuels altogether. We urge him to do so.
We also call upon Senators Feinstein and Padilla to join with their House colleagues in forming a Climate Crisis Coalition and take bold and decisive action to enact further, stronger legislation to tackle the Climate Crisis, because, as we know, the Climate Crisis is already here, and half measures won’t solve it.