Contact: Carolyn Morrisroe, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should conduct rigorous oversight of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds, adhering to strong principles of stakeholder engagement, transparency, and accountability. More than 175 organizations — including BlueGreen Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Green New Deal Network, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, People’s Action, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, Social Security Works, Sunrise Movement, and Working Families Party — sent a letter to the agencies today expressing strong support for four specific oversight and accountability provisions included in the IRA.
The principles are “part of our broader efforts to include strong standards and guardrails across the Inflation Reduction Act in order to ensure that federal investments reverse — rather than reinforce — existing racial, economic, and social inequities and environmental harms,” the groups wrote.
“The historic investments in the Inflation Reduction Act need to truly deliver for workers and the environment, which is why we need to uphold the labor and equity standards in the laws,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “The GAO and OMB need resources for additional capacity, oversight, and to hold other agencies accountable to implement this law the right way. We’re proud to stand with partners and allies in making sure these laws deliver on racial, economic, and environmental justice.”
“Now is the time for our governmental agencies to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The Inflation Reduction Act must benefit environmental justice communities in practice. Toward that end, the OMB and GAO have an opportunity to put in place systems that will ensure IRA funds do not go to projects that continue the harmful practice of treating frontline communities as sacrifice zones. How the spending flows and what it supports must be well thought out, grounded in meaningful community engagement and leadership, and backed by intentional monitoring and data collection. This is a strong first step and it matters. After all, thousands of communities’ livelihoods and the health of future generations are at stake,” said Bineshi Albert, Climate Justice Alliance Co-Executive Director.
“The Inflation Reduction Act promises much by way of environmental justice, but may end up doing more harm than good if there is not strong oversight of the billions of federal dollars coming to programs that will ultimately affect communities. The IRA was a mixed bag and oversight with strong stakeholder engagement and the highest standards of equity must not only ensure programs benefit impacted frontline communities, but that harmful expanded fossil fuel production and incentives for technologies that extend the life of dirty energy like carbon capture that are funded in the IRA do not devastate already polluted communities further. Our communities fought for strong environmental, economic, and equity standards that made it into the law, and now these agencies must follow through on ensuring them,” said Adrien Salazar, Policy Director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.
“We celebrate President Biden’s ‘whole of government’ approach; now it’s time to make it functional by ensuring oversight. In this country, too many laws are rendered useless by lack of oversight or enforcement. It’s one of the reasons communities across the country lose trust in their government’s ability to serve them and make their lives better. No one experiences the government piece by piece, and we expect federal, state, and local officials and agencies to talk to each other, work together, and hold each other accountable to the best outcomes. There is still time to prove to all that we are not just talking about aspirations but working hard to make meaningful change where everyone can touch, see, smell, and feel the change for the better,” said White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council member Maria Lopez-Nuñez of Ironbound Community Corporation of New Jersey.
“Indigenous, frontline, and youth-centered movements are advocating for strict oversight measures that ensure that authentic, community-centered involvement is included in these national investments, especially as we start to see IRA funds start to come down to the state level. States like New Mexico, which have been historically affected by the social and ecological damage of extraction, lead the way for real solutions and Just Transition. New Mexico is already seeing a push for false solutions, carbon reductionist state legislation, and a push for class VI injection wells for carbon pipelines and hydrogen production, which will ultimately crutch the fossil fuel industry. Public funds must go to harm reduction and true community investment, as opposed to private gain for polluters to perpetuate the legacy of pollution and exploitation,” said Alejandria Lyons, Coalition Coordinator, New Mexico No False Solutions Coalition.
“With the Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion investment, we can bring affordable, clean energy to our homes and schools, clean up polluted water and air, and create good jobs that support families. But none of this is guaranteed. Without federal oversight, the IRA could go down in history as a multibillion-dollar corporate handout. Organizers from rural towns to city centers are fighting to bring these dollars home. We need the GAO and OMB’s strong oversight and transparency to make sure the IRA strengthens communities and benefits people,” said Sophia Cheng, Climate Justice Campaign Director at People’s Action.
“Last year, our movement of movements played a significant role in achieving the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act — the largest investment ever in climate and clean energy. This law should allow for a healthier, cleaner, and more just future for all,” said Hebah Kassem, Director of the Living Economy program at Sierra Club. “But that promise can only be fulfilled if the GAO and OMB employ stringent oversight of IRA programs. It’s vital that these agencies engage stakeholders from frontline communities and labor unions and be transparent about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of IRA spending. Only through intentional equity and engagement can we ensure that communities disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate crisis and pollution receive the investments they so terribly need to thrive.”
“The Inflation Reduction Act was a hard-fought victory for President Biden. Now, the Biden Administration can maximize the impact of that victory by ensuring oversight and transparency in how the IRA’s funds are distributed. That means ensuring that funds intended for working people and diverse communities are not captured by Wall Street and special interests,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works.