Bloomberg: "Climate Bill Compromises Leave a Sour Taste with Activists"

This story quotes Senior Fellow Margaret Walls and draws from her analysis of the environmental justice implications of the new Inflation Reduction Law.

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Aug. 16, 2022

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Although the president’s infrastructure bill passed, it was in a whittled-down form, and his big economic and climate bill was on life support for another nine months. Margaret Walls, a senior fellow with Resources for the Future, a climate and energy think tank, noted in an analysis of the legislation that environmental justice concerns haven’t always been a priority in climate policy because they’re not really an ideal fit with climate concerns. 

“We are linking these two things in our policy environment at the moment, and they aren’t that well linked. The environmental justice concerns, which have been around for decades, are often not linked to greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Walls estimates the IRA has closer to $53 billion for environmental justice... Still, Walls calls the bill’s passage an “important first step” in rectifying past wrongs. Some significant provisions by her accounting include:

  • $27 billion for the establishment of a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to provide low-cost financing for clean energy infrastructure projects around the country, 40% reserved for disadvantaged communities 
  • $1.9 billion for projects to improve transit access and walkability, along with investments to address stormwater problems, urban-heat-island hot spots, flood-prone roads and other infrastructure in disadvantaged communities 
  • $250 million for Tribal and Native Hawaiian adaptation and resilience 
  • $550 million for US Bureau of Reclamation projects to provide domestic water supplies to communities or households lacking reliable access to water 
  • $1.5 billion for the US Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for tree planting and other activities that benefit underserved communities 
  • $2.25 billion for addressing air pollution at ports 
  • $3 billion for a new environmental and climate justice block grant program for community-led monitoring, prevention and remediation of pollution.

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