Biden Law: Climate Fraud and Against Communities

On August 16, Joe Biden, President of the United States, endorsed the so-called Reduction of Inflation Act (IRA), which the White House presents as the “most advanced law in that country’s history” to tackle climate change and, at the same time, at the same time the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, a speech repeated by many mass media.

On the contrary, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) denounced that it is a misleading and highly worrying package of measures that combines the massive use of public resources to advance high-risk energies and technologies (such as nuclear, hydrogen, geoengineering) and new subsidies in favor of polluting industries and large companies.

At the same time, the IEN points out, one of the most insidious aspects of this law is that it tries to appropriate the language of “environmental justice” and mislead indigenous communities with relatively few incentives to allow the installation of these new industries and projects in their territories. In the same way, it blackmails union organizations with salary increases (which it should meet anyway), without any provision that meets the just transition claims, to solve the underlying problems.

The same tenor of criticism of the new law is shared by many other grassroots frontline organizations, including the Climate Justice Alliance and Communities for Global Justice Alliance (GGJ).

The Biden administration refers to this law as the biggest push for the “green economy” so far. Major conservation organizations applaud, consistent with their positions of market environmentalism and green business. Being an initiative of senators from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party was opposed because everything is already read in these areas in terms of electoral competition, but in reality there is a great convergence of interests. As in Mexico and other countries, this causes the ruling party to criticize indigenous organizations and other environmental justice organizations for their opposition, as if the resistance of these organizations began with this law.

The size of the funds allocated (about US$740 billion in total in all areas) and the fact that Europe and other countries are also discussing regulations oriented towards the same securities (inflation control, climate change, recovery from the pandemic and impacts of war) makes it even more relevant to understand what this entails.

climate change, climate, biden, communities, debt

This law is in no way to combat climate change, says the IEN, but paradoxically to once again subsidize the industries that are causing climate chaos, especially oil and fossil fuels, but also others like agribusiness, mining and automobiles. Although the government claims that “private interests did not prevail”, in reality the opposite is true, even in the tax issue, in which it seems that the percentage of taxes on the richest are increasing, but the avalanche of exemptions for investments in other sections of the same law, compensate them amply.

For example, although the law supports renewable energies – which are not necessarily good in themselves, especially if they are on a mega-scale and in community territories – in reality these measures are scarce and are even linked to allowing the prior installation of new explorations. oil companies.

As an illustration, one of the most cynical sections of this climate fraud is the section titled “Ensuring Energy Security” (IRA; page 644), which forbids that the government authorizes wind or solar development on federal land, unless a sale or lease to produce oil or gas on federal land has taken place within 120 days prior to the issuance of the wind or solar lease (!).

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These new concessions for oil and gas projects must have a minimum of 2 million acres, or 50% of the surface area destined for solar or wind projects. This also applies to federal maritime zone concessions, in which, in order to authorize the concession of wind facilities, there must be contracts made in the previous year for a minimum of 60 million hectares.

At the same time, support for geoengineering technologies, especially direct air capture and carbon capture and storage (CCS), is spreading widely, a technology invented by the oil industry decades ago that injects carbon dioxide into oil wells. with deep reserves that are difficult to access, to push them to the surface.

So it’s exploring more oil. Although the technique already existed, the industry did not use it because it was expensive and did not make enough profit. By renaming it “climate technology to store carbon”, it finally secured subsidies that will increase its profits and also allow it to explore more oil.

IRA law has nearly doubled the payment for the alleged ton of sequestered carbon (from $35 to $60/ton), although industry reports show that 90% of developments are for accessing deep reserves (the technique is originally called Enhanced Oil Recovery ).

An article this week in the New York Times reports that all carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects were heavily subsidized by the public purse, and none had any results in reducing emissions. Also, in several cases, they didn’t even work.

In turn, IEN, CJA and other organizations denounce that this type of project also means moving forward with new megaducts (now for transporting carbon), adding pollution and risks to the same black and indigenous communities that suffer from oil contamination.

climate change, climate, biden, communities, debt

In addition to the examples cited, the Indigenous Environmental Network warns that the forms of access to the supposed “benefits” that the IRA law would bring to tribal, indigenous, black and colored organizations are based on competition, not rights.

Subsidies can be claimed by NGOs of any nature, the private sector and companies, all of which are much better able to compete and access than the communities themselves. They also warn about conditions and blackmail to allow, in addition to the technologies mentioned, nuclear power plants and forestry and agricultural mega-plantations, all of which have enormous negative impacts on their territories.

As if this were not enough, the law also promotes so-called “climate-smart agriculture” to integrate agricultural and forest lands into carbon markets, also subjecting communities to the impacts of this type of financial speculation and control of their lands and territories by these financial managers.

In short, summarizes the IEN, this law is a climate fraud, a Trojan horse against communities and distracts most people due to lack of action against climate change. On the contrary, it gets worse.

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