As the US debt ceiling crisis barrels towards a June 1 deadline, President Biden meets today with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose budget-cutting plan would gut the climate-related sections of the IRA through the Limit, Save, Grow Act.
The impact of the Republican’s legislation would decimate Biden’s signature climate legislation, leaving the United States in a perilous position when it comes to addressing the climate crisis in any meaningful manner, while also making it impossible for the county to meet its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC this winter.
The McCarthy bill would repeal the $4,000 credits for used vehicles and phase out some of the $7,500 credits for new EVs, remove tax breaks for building solar panels and other clean energy infrastructure, and put an array of other climate incentives on the chopping block. RL Miller, president of the advocacy group Climate Hawks Vote and a member of the Democratic National Committee, called it a “hostage situation”.
“I am screaming at the top of my lungs for climate people who don’t normally get that into debt ceiling fights … to get involved in this one,” she said. (The Guardian)
The IPCC, in its recent 6th Synthesis Report noted the importance of immediate response to the climate crisis:
In this decade, accelerated action to adapt to climate change is essential to close the gap between existing adaptation and what is needed. Meanwhile, keeping warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors. Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.
House leader Kevin McCarthy’s HR 1 bill supports the production of national fossil fuels and calls for rapid federal approval of all energy projects. One of the provisions calls for eliminating the fee on methane emissions from fossil fuel operations. Methane pollutes the atmosphere 80 times more than CO2 in the short term. Methane pollution is also something we know how to address.
Last week, the White House announced it would support Sen. Joe Manchin’s legislation, which establishes a two-year time frame for “environmental reviews of major federal energy projects and one year for smaller ones and directs the president to designate at least 25 high-level energy projects and prioritize their permitting.” (Reuters)
Meanwhile, US officials warn that the climate crisis is an existential risk to the US financial system – one that will require massive spending to avert. Studies show that delayed climate action will only increase costs in the future.” (The Guardian)
“We have Republicans essentially saying, ‘Well, in order to put the US economy on better ground, we need to cut climate spending,’” said Mark Paul, a professor of economics at Rutgers University, “which is just talking about shooting yourself in the foot.”
Inside Climate News reports in Why the Debt Ceiling Debate Is Also a Climate Fight:
McCarthy’s proposal this week has virtually no chance of passing the Democratically-held Senate. Democrats have said they hope to pass a “clean” debt limit bill. Still, the GOP move signals that the battle over national climate policy is far from over, and tying climate measures to a must-pass-bill like the debt ceiling legislation could encourage Democrats to water down or even roll back some of the IRA’s credits to avoid default. It could even be an ominous sign for global climate efforts more broadly.