Inside the Democrats’ climate deal with the devil

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of West Virginia, whose crucial vote in the evenly divided Senate led to some calling him “President Manchin,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer surprised even the most savvy political junkies by declaring his support Climate law whose death was announced only a few weeks ago.

The 725-page legislation seemed like a brief respite from a summer of extreme weather — a severe heat wave and floods across the United States — as well as soaring inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and extreme Supreme Court rulings that scrapped abortion rights and restricted regulatory authority. Environmental Protection Agency.

Manchin, the largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the US Congress, previously killed President Joe Biden’s most ambitious climate package. But there are signs that this time may be different.

For one, this is now Manchin’s expulsion. He even called it the Inflation Reduction Act (an exceptional acronym for IRA).

It’s a far cry from Biden’s Build Back Better plan or the 2019 Green New Deal, a congressional resolution proposed by two Democrats, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The IRA includes nearly $370 billion in clean (and dirty) energy plus healthcare and tax provisions that would lower prescription drug costs and implement a 15% corporate tax on large corporations.

But it has already been approved by major progressives in Congress, including Markey and Ocasio-Cortez. The IRA was followed by unprecedented sit-ins by congressional staff to demand the party leadership reopen climate negotiations before leaving Washington, D.C. for the August recess.

Through tax breaks and reductions, the IRA bill offers domestic incentives for green energy, including the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines, heat pumps and solar panels. It also includes methane fees and establishes a National Green Bank, which would leverage private financing for green projects and unleash an estimated $290 billion in additional investment.

Democrats and climate experts claim that the package will cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Overall, the proposed legislation will make access to clean technology more accessible to the people.

But the whole picture isn’t exactly pink, or green in this case.

Unlike the Build Back Better package released last year, the IRA actually stimulates fossil fuel production. The bill that killed Manchin contained the Clean Electricity Program, which would penalize utilities that did not switch to renewable energy. The IRA’s “all of the above” energy strategy invests in developments that will lead to more greenhouse gas emissions. New solar and wind energy projects conditional To approve oil and gas leases on millions of acres of public land and water. There is a requirement to close off new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska. (Many climate groups are now mobilizing against these elements.)

Schumer also agreed to support legislation that would make it easier to approve green energy projects as well as fossil fuel projects, such as Mansion’s much-wanted Mountain Valley pipeline.

It’s no surprise, then, that the package was pushed and later lauded by a diversified coalition of venture capital that includes the executives of Bill Gates and ExxonMobil.

So, the IRA is a dirty and risky trade-off, but one that Democrats will likely make.

This ostensibly “moderate” approach to working alongside the fossil industry and even stimulating production is radically destructive. It directly contradicts a recent report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states that we need “immediate and deep emissions cuts” to keep global warming at 1.5°C.

Merika loves her cars

In typically American fashion, the IRA bill is also in cars. grown ups. They include billions of dollars in rebates for electric vehicles — $7,500 in tax credits for a new purchase and $4,000 for a used one — and incentives for companies to manufacture and source vehicles, batteries, and metals in the United States or in a US free trade agreement.

As Gael Holzman explains in E&E News, which covers energy policy and the environment, this requirement is likely to create significant barriers to accessing credit. “The metals required to make market-ready electric vehicle batteries — lithium, cobalt, graphite, and nickel — are mainly mined, purified, and processed in China and Russia or in less antagonistic countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia that are not party to the United States’ free trade agreements.”

The bill even encourages purchases of larger electric vehicles like trucks and SUVs, which, as Aaron Gordon points out at Vice, are “incredibly energy-intensive.”

It is worth noting that there are Did not mention Or support other modes of transportation such as trains, electric bikes or even walking. So much to invest in moving from urban and public spaces to being greener and more fun. The IRA bill is classic Americana, but with a hint of green.

Suggested package has A paltry 1 billion dollars For energy and water efficiency in affordable housing. The communities hardest hit by the climate crisis, housing crisis, and cost-of-living crisis have been abandoned once again at a time when Democrats are bleeding working-class support.

What about the rest of the world?

It is astonishing but not surprising that the United States has been able to approve annually, with bipartisan support, nearly $800 billion in military spending, but not a climate financing plan for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

The United States is responsible for the largest share of historical greenhouse gas emissions, but Congress has only approved $1 billion in climate funding in this year’s spending bill. (Biden has pledged to increase that amount to $11.4 billion annually by 2024, but that requires congressional approval.) The IRA does not address global climate finance.

But it is not just an absence. The recent US Federal Reserve interest rate hike to combat inflation at home has exacerbated the global debt crisis in developing countries. This makes it even more difficult for those least responsible for the climate crisis and most directly affected by it to adapt to our rapidly warming planet.

But given the current makeup and corruption of the American political system, the dire state of the planet, and the many defeats relating to climate and social legislation, many progressives would have taken Which A serious climate investment. Sure, this is the largest investment in renewable energy in US history, but that really doesn’t say much.

Next time, let’s hope it’s bolder, fairer, global — and finally to the dismay of the fossil fuel industry.

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