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Are Inflation Reduction Act tradeoffs worth it?

Yesterday the @ikiyacollective shut down the streets surrounding the Department of Interior Washington D.C, painting CLIMATE EMERGENCY in front of the building. The group is demanding President Biden declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel projects, including leases, exports, plastic plants, and pipelines.

We too were caught off guard when the surprise news about the Inflation Reduction Act was announced last week, and have evaluated the tradeoffs in the bill. This could be the last chance to pass any meaningful climate legislation before the next election, when not only our climate but also our democracy and our human rights are on the line.

How do we say no to a $369 billion investment in clean energy when the alternative is $0?

At the same time, how do we say yes to a bill that:

  1. Forces fossil fuel expansion at a time when we must reduce dependence as quickly as possible: The bill forces the Interior Department to lease at least 2 million acres of public lands and 60 million acres of offshore waters for oil & gas each year for a decade as a prerequisite for any new solar or wind energy installation. (at p. 645-6: "the Secretary may not issue a right-of-way for wind or solar energy development on Federal land unless— a quarterly oil and gas lease sale has been held during the 120-day period ending on the date of the issuance of the right-of-way for wind or solar energy development") If Exxon likes it this is a disturbing red flag!

  2. In classic Orwellian fashion promotes "clean hydrogen" and provides tax credits for its production (p. 314 - 330, 399 - 400 and 492-518), defining hydrogen as energy storage (p. 256).

  3. Includes “permitting reforms” that would make it easier to approve and build major energy projects. This is code for rubber-stamping approvals to make it easier to permit new fossil fuel projects, and harder to stop them. (p. 563: "more efficient, accurate, and timely reviews for planning, permitting and approval processes" ) and came with a caveat that a standalone bill to fast track fossil fuel infrastructure be brought to the floor (a bill we know Republicans and Joe Manchin will not fail to pass!).

Science tells us that all investments in fossil fuel development must come to a halt NOW. Fossil fuel companies gleefully announce record profits and use scaremongering to extend the life of their destructive industry even as hundreds remain missing in Kentucky floods with at least 37 confirmed dead, even as fires consume the west, even as millions struggle under oppressive and dangerous heat around the world.


Our Senators must do their jobs and protect the people. They must use their bully pulpits to SHOW the climate emergency and demand removal of these poison pills. Reconciliation bills are subjected to a vote-a-rama process in which any Senator can propose amendments before the final vote. We ask New Mexicans to write to our Senators and request them to propose the following amendments:

  1. The Courts have rejected lease sales for fossil fuel exploitation in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska because they didn't consider the negative impacts to climate and hasten the pace of environmental damage. The Inflation Reduction Act reverses that important legal win. This bill not only opens up that possibility but specifically prioritizes unnecessary and severe risk in oil producing regions like the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, Texas and yes, here in New Mexico where the City of Las Vegas is now in a state of emergency because fire and subsequent floods have contaminated its water reservoirs. As much as we fight it, we are part of nature and what we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. Catastrophe after catastrophe - happening NOW in real time, here in New Mexico and across the country and world - is calling on us to heed the science. We must draw down and end further fossil fuel expansion. Introduce an amendment that removes the prerequisite forcing oil & gas leasing before any new solar or wind energy development on federal lands.

  2. False solutions - dirty hydrogen produced from fossil fuels and carbon capture and sequestration - must not be incentivized. Dirty hydrogen results in more emissions than burning those fuels directly, and carbon capture and sequestration is an unproven technology being used as a crutch by fossil fuel plants to extend their deadly operations. These false solutions prop up the fossil fuel industry instead of investing in what we know works right now: Solar & Wind. Introduce an amendment removing hydrogen produced from fossil fuels and carbon capture and sequestration from the tax incentives included in the bill.

  3. We need oversight! We need regulation because our food, air and water are at stake. Without a livable climate and clean air and water we don't survive, and we can't afford further contamination. Sacrificing our air and water means we poison ourselves out of existence. We must ensure that proper and comprehensive precautions and protections are in place before any further extraction. Introduce an amendment to strengthen public engagement and regulation of all fossil fuel permitting and infrastructure development. We don't need less oversight; we need more stringent supervision and enforcement.

We applaud President Biden for his acknowledgement of environmental justice and request that the Inflation Reduction Act be consistent with these principles. We call on our Senators to make the above described amendments and urge the President to use his executive authority to stop approving fossil fuel projects on federal lands as he promised during his campaign. We are in a climate emergency and we need to take actions consistent with this understanding.

An Oil Change International analysis shows that developing existing fossil fuel reserves would make it impossible to avoid global warming over 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that we must keep nearly 40% of reserves in the ground to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Yesterday indigenous climate activists in DC bravely put their bodies on the line to shut down the roads around the Department of the Interior and inked "Climate Emergency" in front of the building, releasing a statement reading:

We refuse to be complicit in the demise of our communities through co2colonialism. We know violence to the land results in violence to Indigenous bodies. Our people are dying from climate chaos already and with them our culture, our plant knowledge, our language, our sacred ways. We are not victims of the United States when we fight for our sovereignty and self-determination. We will not sit by silently as we have our lives devalued by white supremacy, while we are stripped of our sovereignty. Our struggle to abolish white supremacy and it's systems that are killing us recognizes the political importance of accountability and refuses to embrace the rhetoric of victimhood, even as we vigilantly keep fighting to bring attention to the continued genocide and oppression of our people. We are inseparable from nature. We are older than the United States, older than western imperialism, older than colonization. And still the United States, this extractive and exploitative system, does everything it can to sever our connection to Mother Earth, lying to steal our sovereignty and strip us of our self-determination. Politicians don’t care about us, presidents don’t take care of us, these systems were created to destroy us. But we will fight until the natural balance is restored. For generations, they’ve arrested us, tear gassed us, poisoned us… But they cannot stop us. We will continue to fight so that our young will thrive. Protecting the sacred is our Indigenous responsibility, passed down generation after generation. We are the prayers of our ancestors… We are the actions of those who walked before us… Another world is possible. Expect us.


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