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Media Contact:

Justin Wasser, (202) 753-7016, jwasser@earthworks.org

On Wednesday, Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer released a proposed climate and energy package called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that aims to tackle the climate crisis and energy security. The legislation, however, fails to adequately address calls from climate advocates and people living on the frontlines of existing and proposed fossil fuel and mineral extraction. Specific provisions, in fact, are likely to undermine larger efforts toward climate action and justice for communities harmed by extractive industries.

One of the more harmful provisions in the act proposes significant changes to the Definition of New Clean Vehicle Critical Mineral and Battery Component Requirements that could impact battery mineral supply chains. While the provision acknowledges the need to produce batteries with recycled mineral content, it could incentivize new mines before our legal and regulatory system is equipped to handle the environmental and social consequences of mining. The 1872 Mining Law is 150 years old and provides no protections for communities or the environment. 

Equally alarming are provisions that would require massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, reinstating an illegal 2021 Gulf lease sale and mandating that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters. Drilling on public lands accounts for about one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Avoiding climate disaster requires us to stop all new oil and gas drilling on U.S. lands and waters now and begin phasing existing extraction out entirely. 

Statement from Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel: 

“We need to jump start renewable energy investment without incentivizing new mining under 150-year-old mining laws that fail to protect people and the environment from harm. We need to cut climate pollution by stopping the build-out of fossil fuels instead of cutting deals to fast-track permits for more dirty energy infrastructure.

“While it is encouraging to see Congress taking action on the climate crisis, this bill does not get us to the bold, broad, national action needed to avert a climate catastrophe. The package includes provisions that would undermine climate goals and the need for a swift, just, and equitable energy transition.

“Just and equitable climate action demands that President Biden declare a climate emergency and that Secretary Haaland reform our outdated mining regulations. The Inflation Reduction Act, as written, absolves no one from doing what science proves is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe and to protect people.”