ECCC Statement on the Inflation Reduction Act
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act by Democrats and signed into law today by President Biden is a historic achievement and true cause for celebration. This legislation is a game changer; it will create jobs, lower costs, increase U.S. competitiveness, reduce air pollution and, of course, tackle the climate crisis. It will also significantly impact international climate action, especially heading to Egypt’s COP27 this November.
The landmark legislation includes an unprecedented investment of $369 billion in measures to promote renewable energy and mitigate climate change. It is expected to raise $739 billion in revenue from a new corporate minimum tax and improved tax enforcement, will reduce the federal deficit by $300 billion, and allow Medicare to negotiate the price of life saving drugs.
As another summer of devastating climate catastrophes rage globally, Democrats have risen to the moment with this legislation to bring hope to our planet. The U.S., the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, is now on its way to meeting their climate commitments and leading the world by example.
The new legislation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing renewable and clean energy sources to replace fossil fuels, significantly lowering production costs of wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries for electric cars and incentivizing the private sector to employ wind, solar, and geo-thermally generated energy. The bill also provides tax incentives for private citizens to install solar panels and heat pumps in their homes and to buy electric vehicles.
In coordination with President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill, the construction of rapid charging stations will be ramped up across the entire country, in both rural and urban areas, where there is little penetration of electric vehicles.
The Inflation Reduction Act allocates close to $50 billion to address environmental justice concerns, including $27 billion for a “green bank” to invest in public-private partnerships that cut emissions and $8 billion specifically directed to disadvantaged communities. $2 billion has also been allocated for further research in new technologies in fusion and high-energy physics. Most emissions reductions, predicted to drop to 40% of those in 2005 by 2030, will stem from the power and infrastructure sectors, with carbon capture expected to increase thirteen-fold.
The Inflation Reduction Act is a stunning legislative achievement. We must continue the work, nonetheless, of bridging the remaining 10% gap in the 50% emissions commitments made by the Biden administration. This includes completely phasing out fossil fuels, blocking drilling on federal lands and waters, and fighting for action and environmental justice for the Black, brown, Indigenous and poorer communities who already bear the disproportionate brunt of this climate and environmental crisis.
We therefore continue to urge the President to declare a National Climate Emergency. Please join us and sign our ECCC National Climate Emergency Petition.
Critically, we can only advance by (re-)electing Democratic leaders in November. We urge you register and request your ballot at www.votefromabroad.org -- and make sure your friends and family, at home and broad, have a plan to vote as well.
To keep up to date and active with Democrats Abroad efforts to tackle climate change, please join our Environment and Climate Crisis Council by clicking here.
ECCC July Monthly Newsletter
Message from the Chair
🥵 Heat waves, drought, and wildfires are crippling large swaths of the U.S., Europe, and the world. We are truly at a precipice, with decisive climate action required of the U.S. government and others globally. The United States is at an inflection point politically, with our highest court thwarting the government’s power, through the EPA, to curtail polluting emissions. Basic democratic rights are being swept away by Republican-controlled state legislatures and Supreme Court justices.
💙 There was a glimmer of hope this week as President Biden announced Democratic agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a reconciliation bill that, in addition to lowering drug prescription costs and bringing down the federal deficit, will help tackle the climate crisis by providing tax credits and investments for energy projects equaling 369 billion dollars.
🌞 The reconciliation bill is a legislative start. We must celebrate this largest investment in renewable energy in the nation’s history, as it will significantly lower costs for producing wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries for electric vehicles. Disappointingly, funds will also increase new fossil fuel infrastructure and promote drilling on Federal lands and waters. At best, the new support is predicted to reduce our emissions by 40% of those in 2006 by 2030, where our climate commitments in the Paris Climate Accord require a 50% reduction.
🆘 So, how do we bridge the remaining 10% gap? We must further urge the President to declare a National Climate Emergency, thereby triggering greater Executive powers to ban crude oil exports and halt new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines and export terminals, among other things. We must also use every resource available to maintain the House and expand the Senate in the coming midterms.
✍️ Please sign the ECCC petition now. Our survival depends on the Biden Administration taking further action. Please share it widely with your American friends, family, and colleagues in and outside the U.S. and on social media. It will be transmitted to the White House and Congress.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has massively disrupted energy markets in Europe and throughout the world and has shaken up Europe’s plan to transition to renewable energy. Before the start of the war, the world was not on track to meet climate goals set out for 2050; the covid-19 pandemic, economic turbulence, and insufficient commitment and planning toward net-zero goals have put us even further behind schedule.
Russia is the biggest global exporter of oil, and Europe has largely depended on Russia for its oil and gas. In 2019, 40% of Europe’s gas and more than ¼ of its oil came from Russia (Tollefson). The EU had been expecting to rely on Russian energy while transitioning to greener systems. However, As of May 31, the EU decided to cease all oil imports coming from Russia by sea. This embargo does not include oil brought into Hungary by pipeline. Hungary was opposed to a total ban as it is extremely dependent on Russian fossil fuels; 65% of its oil and 85% of its gas coming from Russia (Meredith, 2022). In March, Germany halted approval of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline connecting it directly to Russia.Read more
The Bad: During the 2009 session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Nicolas Lucas Ticum asserted: “The Earth does not belong to human beings. Human beings belong to the Earth.” Too many of us miserably fail to grasp the wisdom of his assertion. Here is just one consequence. While oceans do their best to be our friends, sequestering carbon much better than any technical tool we might develop, we weaken their capacity to do so. As Robert Krulwich explains, we dump so much carbon into the atmosphere that it warms the oceans, and the warmer they get, the less able they are to sequester carbon. The vicious cycle soon could lead to that point of no return we simply can not permit.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued a string of decisions with devastating consequences for citizens in the US, and in the latest case, for populations globally. The rulings range from states’ ability to control gun safety, the separation of church and state, and the bombshell reversal of Roe v. Wade, turning back 50 years of precedent on women’s reproductive rights and privacy.
The final decision delivered last week was West Virginia vs. the Environmental Protection Agency, which will reverberate across the planet, as the US (the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter globally) tries to meet its pledge to cut its emissions by 50% by 2030. These decisions are ALL deplorable and reflect a politically radicalized slate of Republican Supreme Court justices.
West Virginia vs the EPA effectively eviscerates the government’s power to regulate a significant source of the carbon emissions destabilizing the world. This ruling not only impacts the safety and future of our own country, but it also imperils planetary sustainability.
The EPA’s capacity to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act is now largely reduced. In practical terms, the decision prevents the agency from setting carbon-emission limits as a way to force the entire power generation industry to move away from burning coal to other, less-polluting energy sources-something the Obama Administration had attempted to do with its Clean Power Plan.Read more
April was Earth month, but our struggle to preserve the habitable future of our planet must not relent as we move into May and beyond. Democrats Abroad Environment & Climate Crisis Council (ECCC) will continue to share interesting events within DA related to environment and climate, offer avenues for climate activism and provide periodic analysis of current developments, policies, and legislation that address the existential challenges facing our planet today.
💙 By almost unanimous consent, our Resolution on the Climate Emergency was passed on Sunday, 22 May 2022, at the Democrats Abroad Global Meeting. Read the Complete text here.
Help us urge the Biden-Harris administration to take the lead and declare a National Climate Emergency.
✍🏼 ✍🏿 ✍️✍🏾 ✍🏻 Sign our ECCC National Climate Emergency Petition. Our life on earth depends on treating Climate Change like the Climate Emergency it is.
We’d like to introduce our new Steering Committee for the ECCC; Dana Freling – Chair, Dash Nesbitt – Secretary, Angela Fobbs – Communications Director, Inge Kjemtrup – Voter Outreach, Bruce Murray – Legislation Liaison, Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Anthony Akerman and Eric Burns. Read more.
We are building our ranks and need more volunteers and leaders, so please contact us to see how you can get involved…joining the Watchdogs Research Task Force, the communications team, events planning, and more. We love for you to volunteer and take individual action…and that should start with your vote.Read more
We are building our ranks and need more volunteers and leaders, so please contact us to see how you can get involved…joining the Watchdogs Research Task Force, the communications team, events planning, and more. We love for you to volunteer.
We’d like to introduce our new Steering Committee for the ECCC;
Dana Freling – Chair
Dana Freling is a Texas voter, born and bred in Dallas. After completing degrees at Smith College and Stanford University in Social Anthropology, she set out on a course of research and advocacy to improve the plight of communities at home and around the world. Dana has resided in Finland for decades and has also lived in France, Japan, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Mozambique, and India, among other places.
Dana is the founding Chair of Democrats Abroad Finland and is currently serving her second term. In early 2018, she worked diligently with a group of passionate and engaged Americans across Finland in getting out the overseas vote to combat the destruction wrought upon the world by the Trump administration. In early 2019, Democrats Abroad Finland was formalized, and its members were delighted to contribute to DA’s decisive margin of victory in the 2020 Presidential and Congressional races in the US.
Professionally, Dana has worked in the environmental sector for bi-lateral and multilateral institutions and NGOs, and has worked across countries in East and South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe. Most recently, she was Co-founder and Executive Director of a Finnish non-profit which provided curriculum for climate change education (and its intersection with the Sustainable Development Goals) for 3000 schools across India. Dana has also worked in local Finnish community politics, serving as the Campaign Director in a successful 2021 candidate’s bid for Espoo City Council. She chaired the board of a large international school for six years and has served on numerous educational and community boards over the last two decades.Dana is now honored to lead the Democrats Abroad Environment & Climate Crisis Council as Chair at this critical juncture in the global struggle to achieve a sustainable future.
The Dark Side of Light: Light Pollution’s Effects on Biodiversity
Though artificial light has been a game-changer in human history, enabling society to function and read around the clock and roads to be safer, there have been profound unforeseen consequences in this relatively recent miracle to the planet's biodiversity. Some 28% of vertebrates and 65% of invertebrates are nocturnal. Light pollution, glare, and skyglow affect their behavior in different ways: attraction, avoidance, and disrupted circadian rhythms.Read more
By Diana S. Powers, DA France
On April 1st, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced the ratcheting up of fuel economy standards, known as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, in a big move to address climate change, air pollution, high fuel costs, and energy independence. This action partially fulfills one of President Biden’s first executive orders of January 20, 2021, the “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” The President tasked the executive departments and agencies to review the former President’s policies and regulations and to suspend, revise, or rescind those policies that flout the principles of protection of health and the environment. The order asks them to consult with labor unions, the states, and the industry in designing policy replacements and revisions.
The first CAFE standards were undertaken in 1975 for model years 1978 for cars and 1979 for trucks, in response to the oil crises of 1973 and 1974. Energy independence had become paramount, with the growing realization that decisions made in other countries could dictate whether the US would spin into a downward cycle of recession or would be pushed by rising fuel costs into a period of stubborn inflation. Worse yet, we could have both with stultifying stagflation that affects every part of the economy, as indeed occurred in the 1970s. Energy efficiency became a powerful and quick way to free our economy from its dependence on foreign oil. Energy expert and author Vaclav Smil dates the beginning of the energy transition to this time, long before there was much public awareness of climate change. These concerns have become paramount again today, with the geopolitical imperative to take Russian oil and gas off the market, with supply chain bottlenecks resulting from the pandemic, and from the critical need to stop burning fossil fuels to save the planet.Read more