President Joe Biden speaks in Milwuakee on the eve of the first anniversary of Inflation Reduction Act.

President Joe Biden speaks in Milwuakee on August 15, 2023, the eve of the first anniversary of Inflation Reduction Act.

(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As Biden Hails Inflation Reduction Act, Climate Groups Say He Must Stop Boosting Fossil Fuels

"Unless he drastically changes course, Biden's legacy will forever be marred by his failure to directly address fossil fuels, the primary driver of the climate crisis," said one campaigner.

Climate campaigners on Tuesday responded to U.S. President Joe Biden's speech touting the clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act on the eve of its first anniversary by condemning his administration's fossil fuel expansion and calling on him to declare a climate emergency.

Biden has repeatedly hailed the $368 billion in clean energy investments in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) while claiming last week that he has "practically" declared a climate emergency. On Tuesday, the president delivered his remarks at Ingeteam, a company that makes wind turbine systems and says it plans to manufacture electric vehicle charging stations and hire 100 workers.

"This is happening across the state," Biden asserted. "It is a direct result of the clean energy investments I signed into law a year ago. Folks, as I've said for a long time, when I think climate, I think jobs."

Progressive critics pushed back against the president's claims.

"President Biden can talk until he's blue in the face about investments in clean energy, but as long as he continues to approve massive new fossil fuel projects throughout the country, we keep moving backward on the path to a livable climate future," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement. "No amount of investment in wind turbines, solar panels, or faulty carbon capture schemes will protect our environment or stabilize our climate if we simultaneously extract and burn more and more oil and gas."

"The Alaska Willow drilling project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a plethora of new LNG export terminals—these are among the features of Biden's energy legacy that will doom us to climate catastrophe if he doesn't change course now," Hauter continued. "Meanwhile, President Biden's massive investments in unproven, impossibly expensive carbon capture schemes serve only to allow the fossil fuel industry to keep doing what it does best—drill, frack, pump, and pollute—under the premise that a mysterious, magical technology will somehow clean it all up."

"These faulty initiatives are sucking away precious time and money that could otherwise be spent on legitimate clean energy projects like wind, solar, and building efficiency," she added.

Oil Change International U.S. campaign manager Allie Rosenbluth called the IRA "one of the biggest handouts to the fossil fuel industry in U.S. history."

"With tens of billions of dollars in giveaways for the oil and gas industry, provisions expanding fossil fuel leasing, and incentives for dangerous and unproven technologies designed to keep the fossil fuel industry in business like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and direct air capture, this law will not accomplish what we need to have a livable future."

"Unless he drastically changes course, Biden's legacy will forever be marred by his failure to directly address fossil fuels, the primary driver of the climate crisis," Rosenbluth added.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a statement that "one year after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the need is more urgent than ever for him to declare a climate emergency, phase out fossil fuels, and fast-track distributed energy systems."

CBD energy justice director Jean Su argued that "it's clear that the IRA isn't enough."

"This summer has been an absolute horror show of the catastrophic consequences of burning fossil fuels. President Biden needs to run, not walk, away from the climate catastrophe of fossil fuels," she asserted. "Every time his administration approves another oil or gas project, it pushes us toward a more hellish future."

"Biden should use all his executive powers to speed the end of the fossil fuel era, because every tenth of a degree matters," Su added. "Unless he does, these projects will perpetuate human suffering, environmental racism, and wildlife extinction. They'll just keep on cooking the planet."

The groups' calls come ahead of next month's March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City, part of a September 15 global mass mobilization for climate action.

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