By Kristoffer Tigue
Inside Climate News
Senate Democrats could be “overcounting” the funding for environmental justice provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and misrepresenting the bill’s benefits for low-income families, communities of color and other historically disadvantaged Americans, according to a coalition of climate and environmental justice advocacy groups that is analyzing the 725-page spending package.
With Manchin still holding much of the power in what ultimately gets passed by Congress, many environmental justice activists have also resigned to the fact that they may not have the power to stop the legislation from moving forward.
“There’s a very slim chance of anything changing in the bill as it goes to the House,” Adrien Salazar, policy director for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, told me in an interview. “I think we’re at the point of recognizing that some of the writing’s on the wall.”
Instead, Salazar said, groups are now beginning to focus their energy on how they can mitigate any potentially harmful outcomes from the bill after it passes, such as organizing around stopping future oil and gas lease sales and keeping up pressure to halt any fossil fuel infrastructure development in their neighborhoods. Activists also want to make sure they’re at the table when Democrats begin finalizing their deal with Manchin over reforming the federal permitting process for energy projects, he said.
Manchin has said federal permitting for pipelines and other fossil fuel development has been too cumbersome and needs to be streamlined. Salazar said much of their groups’ focus will now be on making sure that doesn’t happen, while also looking for opportunities to boost renewable energy development in the deal.
“We know this is a handshake deal between Manchin and Schumer,” Salazar said. “And so we think that there’s still an opening, even if it’s narrow and even if it’s going to be another uphill battle, to try to stop this deal.”