By Roger Straw, July 30, 2022
The proposed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is important, no doubt about that. Here are a number of ways to learn more.
If you’re a wonk for details, read the first of these two articles below, Manchin’s Inflation Reduction Act: What’s Good and Bad for Climate News. by Drilled News.
If you want a one-page exposé on the bill’s weak points, check out the second article, Manchin Poison Pills Buried in Inflation Reduction Act Will Destroy Livable Climate, by Brett Hartl of the Center For Biological Diversity.
Offsite reading – see also:
- Senate Democrats – The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, one-page summary
- Washington Post: How the Schumer-Manchin climate bill might impact you and change the U.S.
- New York Times: Democrats’ Plan to Fight Inflation May Lower Costs Over Time
- Vox News: How Democrats plan to overhaul taxes, climate spending, and health care before the midterms
- Senate Dems: The whole enchilada – 725 pages
It’s a sad day when “progress” must be taken in great big baby steps and a few backward leaps. I fear for the generations to come….
Manchin’s Inflation Reduction Act: What’s Good and Bad for Climate
Drilled News, July 28, 2022
Weird coincidence: My power was out when the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was announced. By the time it came back on, Twitter was awash in takes on what Senator Joe Manchin’s proposal means for climate. Quick aside here, how annoying is the dude who shits on everyone else’s proposal and then finally submits his own worst-of-all-versions approach as the most sensible path forward? We’ve all worked with this dude at some point, and he is no one’s favorite.
Negotiating on climate policy with Senator Coal Baron began with the first iteration of the Build Back Better Act, which earmarked more than $500 billion for climate-related programs. That was still less than half of what is needed to actually transition off of fossil fuels, but it was a start and clean energy advocates were particularly excited about the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would have required electric utilities to clean up their electricity mixes by 4 percent each year. That doesn’t sound like much, but even the fastest-moving utilities were hitting around 2 percent each year (2020 was the best year on record, when the utility sector hit a 2.3 percent increase in clean energy), so the mix of regulation and incentives aimed at pushing them to 4 percent would have delivered meaningful emissions reductions. It was one of the first programs Manchin killed; he said utilities were already moving quickly enough. The fee proposed on methane emissions went too, as did a whole host of other regulatory measures.
“What we’ve seen is that carrots are much easier to pass than sticks,” Dr. Leah Stokes, professor of political science at University of California at Santa Barbara and author of the book Shortcircuiting Policy, about the way utilities have influenced and controlled energy policy over the years, told me at the time. “It’s really hard to actually require change,” she adds. “It’s a lot easier to say, ‘Hey, if you’d like to go solar, cool! Here’s some money. But you know, you don’t have to. You want an EV? Sure, that’s great. But you know, you don’t have to get an EV. Everything is just kinda voluntary and that’s important. Don’t get me wrong. Carrots are really important. But the problem with climate change is that we actually have to move fast enough. We need everybody to be doing the right thing at the pace and scale that’s necessary.”
And therein lies the rub. Politicans are still treating climate change like, well, politics. In doing so they’re missing the one really key difference between this issue and every other issue they might address: time. If Washington fucks up on healthcare, people will die, it’s true. But we’re not locked into mass death year over year, compounding and increasing all the time with no way to stop it. A new policy could literally stop the bleeding from one day to the next. The same is not true of climate. A compromise today may well be smart politics, but it is also genocide. It is a choice to put corporate profits above human life, and not just the humans walking around right now but also those who will walk the Earth 50 years from now. It’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder all the time whether politics is just fundamentally incapable of meeting this challenge.
Which is not to say that doing something, anything isn’t always better than doing nothing. Every percentage of a degree matters, and despite the fact that this Act supports fossil fuel extraction alongside clean energy development, on the whole we will emit less than had Manchin proposed absolutely nothing. So, with our climate realist glasses on, let’s take a look at the details of this proposal, which Manchin and Schumer agreed to and announced on July 27, 2022, and which they say could be law as early as August 2022.
This is a 725-page bill, and I have not read every single page yet, so please if there are climate provisions lurking outside the “Energy Security” section give me a shout. The section begins on page 232, and it starts with “Clean Electricity and Reducing Carbon Emissions.” Here’s what it does (I’ve put ** next to provisions that were part of the original BBB climate proposal):
…….(>>>…continued, click here…) [An EXTENSIVE listing of provisions follows, a thorough analysis of the bill’s pros and cons. Excellent for a deep understanding. – R.S.]
Manchin Poison Pills Buried in Inflation Reduction Act Will Destroy Livable Climate
Press Release by Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, July 28, 2022
WASHINGTON— A proposed climate and energy package would require massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, reinstate an illegal 2021 Gulf lease sale and mandate that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters.
The provisions, in sections 50264 and 50265, are buried near the end of the 725-page Inflation Reduction Act. The bill was released Wednesday after Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they had agreed to the $370 billion package.
“This is a climate suicide pact,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s self-defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction. The new leasing required in this bill will fan the flames of the climate disasters torching our country, and it’s a slap in the face to the communities fighting to protect themselves from filthy fossil fuels.”
The bill would require the Interior Department to offer at least 2 million acres of public lands and 60 million acres of offshore waters for oil and gas leasing each year for a decade as a prerequisite to installing any new solar or wind energy. If the department failed to offer these minimum amounts for leasing, no right of ways could be granted for any utility-scale renewable energy project on public lands or waters.
In January a federal judge overturned the 80 million-acre Gulf of Mexico lease sale because Interior failed to address the climate harms from developing the leases. The additional Gulf of Mexico and Alaska lease sales mandated by the bill for 2022 and 2023 were part of a prior five-year leasing plan, but they did not occur.
The Inflation Reduction Act would require offering these minimum lease amounts for 10 years. That translates to more than 600 million acres of offshore leasing — four times the size of the entire Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf.
On average the fossil fuel industry has purchased for lease 1 million acres of land every year since 2009. By requiring 2 million acres per year to be offered for lease — an area the size of Yellowstone National Park — the legislation all but ensures that the fossil fuel industry will maintain current oil and gas production levels without any change for the next decade. U.S. emissions must be cut in half over the next nine years to have even a chance of avoiding catastrophic warming.
“More oil and gas leasing is completely incompatible with maintaining a livable planet, so we’re forced to fight this,” said Hartl. “This deal is unacceptable. If it passes, we’ll fight every single lease the Interior Department tries to approve. Our climate and the health of our communities depend on it.”
Passing new laws to mandate oil and gas leasing would fundamentally conflict with the Biden administration’s climate goals. Multiple analyses show climate pollution from the world’s already producing fossil fuel developments, if fully developed, will push warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Avoiding such warming requires ending new investment in fossil fuel projects and phasing out production to keep as much as 40% of already-developed fields in the ground.
Fossil fuel production on public lands is responsible for about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate-policy proposals in recent years.
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