In response to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Labor Network for Sustainability has just released the following statement:
The fossil fuel industry, the Republican Party, conservative fossil-fuel Democrats, and right-wing ideologues combined to block the climate, labor, and social justice programs of the Green New Deal and Build Back Better resulting in compromise legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act.
Passage of the IRA, despite its drawbacks and limitations, is the most significant climate legislation ever passed into law. It could represent a huge opportunity for the labor-climate movement to shape the significant federal subsidies provided for non-fossil energy development, manufacturing, and for consumers. It will create an estimated 1 to 1.5 million jobs. It includes very modest funding to address pollution in frontline communities.
But the power of the fossil fuel industry and its allies was still enough to gut important parts of a program for climate, jobs and justice – and to add provisions that promote injustice and climate change. The legislation includes only one-quarter of the investment necessary to meet the Paris climate goals and prevent the worst consequences of global warming. It allows much of its funding to be squandered on unproven technologies that claim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but whose primary effect may simply be to permit the continued burning of fossil fuels – and enrich their promoters.
It allows increased drilling for fossil fuels, especially on federal lands. It allows drilling and pipeline construction that will continue to see areas like the Gulf Coast and Appalachia turned into de facto “sacrifice zones” where expanded fossil fuel infrastructure will devastate the environment – and the people. It does not guarantee that the jobs it creates will be good union jobs. It makes no “just transition” provisions for workers and communities whose livelihoods may be threatened by the transition to a climate-safe economy.
The Inflation Reduction Act can provide the basis for an unprecedented people’s mobilization for climate, labor, and justice. That is what it will take to provide a sustainable future for our environment and a fairer economy.