This is the first in a two-part series on the implications of the historic climate and health spending package, which President Biden signed into law earlier this week. Read the second post here.
With the signature of President Joe Biden, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) now marks the most significant climate policy action the United States has ever taken. The defining feature of this law is that it seeks to wring carbon dioxide emissions out of the U.S. economy by relying heavily on policy "carrots," like subsidies, instead of policy "sticks," such as regulating the fossil fuel industry or attempting to capture the external costs of greenhouse gas emissions through carbon pricing.
In this regard, the new law represents a significant departure from past unsuccessful legislative efforts to tackle the climate crisis and, as we argue in Part I of this series, is a groundbreaking and respectable effort to decarbonize. However, as we argue in Part II, its provisions could potentially place an unacceptably heavy burden on marginalized communities and thus may fall short of fulfilling the administration's commitment to climate justice.
Setting the Path to a Clean Energy Future
The IRA directs $369 billion toward a …
This is the second in a two-part series on the implications of the historic climate and health spending package, which President Biden signed into law earlier this week. Read the first post here.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will subsidize our nation's clean energy revolution and have a positive impact on climate-driven economics, as noted in Part I of this series. That said, the IRA isn't flawless. Notably, it includes several subsidies for fossil fuels, which will be counterproductive as our nation works toward its climate goals.
Worse still, not all "carrots" for clean energy technologies are good, and the IRA includes a potentially bad one. Specifically, the IRA risks subsidizing the clean energy transition through perpetuating environmental injustice in how we obtain and use energy to fuel our economy.
It is well known that the fossil fuel industry was built in part by concentrating the costs …
Last week, the Center for Progressive Reform joined 90 organizations in expressing strong support for the Environmental Justice for All Act (EJ for All Act) in a letter as the bill went before the House Committee on Natural Resources for markup.
The coalition, led by Coming Clean, a collaborative of environmental health and environmental justice experts, and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) for Chemical Policy Reform, urged committee members to advance this important legislation to the House floor. The bill, introduced by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Donald McEachin of Virginia, is the most significant effort by the federal government to address generations of environmental racism.
Although the bill passed in committee last Tuesday by a 26 to 21 vote, its future is unclear. Before the bill is sent to the House floor, it must overcome concerns that it has jurisdictional overlap with the …
Duke Energy, a major corporation with near-monopoly control over North Carolina’s electric grid, has outsized influence over the state’s decarbonization plan, which is now under review. The state legislature ordered the utility commission to make a 70 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Duke Energy has submitted a plan to the commission to meet those goals, but the plan fails to take affordability and equity into full account. What’s worse: Low-wealth people aren’t required — or, in many cases, even able — to participate in the planning process. They’re shut out.
For too many low-wealth North Carolina residents, energy bills are already too high. These communities have contributed little to climate change, but they face steep increases in electricity rates as the planet heats up and storms become more frequent and severe. There is a better …
The Center for Progressive Reform has joined close to 1,000 organizations and individuals in providing comments on California's long-awaited plan for achieving carbon neutrality, the Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update (Draft Plan). Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state agency tasked with coordinating the plan, a daunting challenge: achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 at the latest.
Our comments conclude that the state should (1) be more ambitious, (2) more explicitly achieve multiple objectives, including environmental justice, and (3) develop a supplemental plan that more specifically outlines the policy tools the state will employ to achieve its objectives.
Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels More Quickly
The Draft Plan's 2045 timeline — spanning more than two decades — will perpetuate fossil fuel use and associated pollution. The plan proposes deadlines for ending the sale of fossil-fuel based goods, like trucks, cars, and appliances, but assumes …
This op-ed was originally published by The Revelator. Reprinted under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.
These days, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can no longer be described as a technocratic, under-the-radar agency that sets policies on energy infrastructure and market rules, rates, and standards.
As energy policy has become front-page news — driven by climate change and recent price volatility — FERC has begun updating its regulations to meet new exigencies. The agency has taken big steps this spring to support affordability and a transition to cleaner energy, including proposing updates to the way it permits natural gas pipelines and beginning to overhaul how regions plan and pay for the expansion of electricity transmission infrastructure.
These moves have provoked controversy because their stakes are high: Billions of dollars of infrastructure expenditures are on the table. What gets built, who pays, who hosts this infrastructure, and who makes …
On June 23, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold its first public hearing on its draft plan (the Draft 2022 Scoping Plan) for achieving the state's climate goals and for getting to carbon neutrality no later than 2045. Including actions that prioritize California's overburdened and underserved communities will be vital to the success of the proposed plan.
Many across the state are expressing concern that the proposed course of action in the draft plan will be too slow, achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 instead of by 2035, the earlier target Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the agency to consider. Although the proposed approach would reduce the demand for and use of fossil fuels significantly, it would allow existing oil and gas industry activities that disproportionately harm low-income communities of color to continue indefinitely.
On June 23, California's Air Resources Board (CARB) — the state's air pollution control agency — is holding a public hearing on its comprehensive roadmap for achieving the state's daunting climate goal: carbon neutrality by 2045 at the latest, a goal established by Gov. Gavin Newsom in a 2018 executive order.
Although states are increasingly adopting 100 percent clean electricity targets, California's goal goes considerably farther, covering emissions from the entire economy, including transportation, industry, buildings, waste disposal, and agriculture. With its Draft 2022 Scoping Plan Update (Draft Scoping Plan), the state has now set pen to paper in sketching potential pathways for zeroing out the state's greenhouse gas emissions.
The Draft Scoping Plan provides a general overview of four scenarios by which the state might reach "net zero" emissions. The Draft Scoping Plan includes few details …
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled back to my home state to accept an award on behalf of the Center for Progressive Reform. The first-ever De Prey Peace Awards, named for Sheboygan, Wisconsin, peace activist Ceil De Prey, honor individuals and organizations whose work, volunteerism, and advocacy contribute to peace, a stronger democracy, and a better, more inclusive world for future generations.
Over the course of her life, De Prey has advocated for peace and worked to improve the lives of those around her. This included her past work as a medical researcher and volunteer efforts in every community she lived in. In just one example, for many years, First Congregational United Church of Christ of Sheboygan served what it called “Ceil’s Meal,” which brought together area residents from all walks of life to share meals. Many of the dishes featured at the events were …
This is the first post in a series on climate justice in California.
State officials in California are leading an extensive multisector planning effort to develop the 2022 Scoping Plan, the third update to California’s climate mitigation strategy. The new plan will outline a pathway for statewide action toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions (i.e., carbon neutrality) no later than 2045.
California first established its distinctive planning approach for developing coordinated emissions reduction measures that also advance the state’s other climate and environmental justice goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 (AB32).
AB32 also established the first statewide emissions target limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and charged the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with developing and adopting a new scoping plan every five years. The first scoping plan was developed in …