Water protector Tara Houska warns US “climate” bill means continued extractivism and frontline resistance
On Sunday August 7, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed by the United States Senate in a 51-50 vote with Vice-President Kamala Harris casting the tie breaking vote.
The CBC reports: “The bill devotes $369 billion US to measures to combat climate change, while also capping drug costs for seniors, extending health insurance benefits and lowering the deficit. The climate measures also include incentives for building clean-energy equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines, lowering pollution levels in minority communities and expanding greener factory-farm operations.”
Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has tweeted: “Great news from the United States. This is a historic moment for us all, and for generations to come.”
But Democracy Now! cautions: “[The bill] includes controversial provisions added to win support from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema.”
“At Manchin’s request, the bill will make it easier for the pipeline industry to win approval of new projects, including the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia. The bill could also lead to more drilling on public lands and waters and expand tax credit for fossil coal and gas-burning plants.”
The 488-kilometre-long Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry fracked gas across the mountains and rivers of West Virginia and Virginia.
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman also quotes the Financial Times article that reports Sinema received “donations totalling $54,900 from executives at KKR…” Notably, the American investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) and the Edmonton-based Alberta Investment Management Corp. own a 65 per cent stake in the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline now being built without consent on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Water protector Tara Houska, who opposes the Calgary-based Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, also warns that the bill means more extractivism.
Houska says: “It’s doubling down on fossil fuels to get to renewables.”
She adds: “We have to acknowledge the fact that renewables themselves, it’s still going to be extraction. It’s still going to be the model that the fossil fuel and extractive industry wants, which is new mines in new places, which means our people, Indigenous people, which means Black and Brown people continue to disparately experience the effects of extractive industry. It means that mining companies are showing up in our backyard, taking out lithium, which is already happening in Thacker Pass.”
The open-pit Thacker Pass lithium mine is being developed by Lithium Nevada Corp., a subsidiary of the Vancouver-based corporation Lithium Americas Corp., on Indigenous lands in Nevada. Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu (the People of Red Mountain) is resisting the mine on the sacred Peehee Mu’huh site.
And just prior to the Senate vote, Houska tweeted: “The movement I’m part of is fighting w/our literal bodies on frontlines to protect what’s left of Mother Earth. Rolling back basic enviro review, judiciary intervention, opening 100s of millions of acres of lands & water to extraction isn’t a win. It isn’t even momentum.”
Houska has also tweeted: “Until the folks directly experiencing the worst impacts, the folks with intimate lived knowledge of land & water are represented up front, #climate solutions will keep reflecting the values of folks most removed from the end results & most tied to keeping lives of extraction.”
The Indigenous Environmental Network also says The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is NOT a climate bill.
It highlights: “The great majority of the dressed up climate provisions are investments into false solutions like CCS [carbon capture and storage], nuclear, hydrogen, biofuels, and carbon trading. This bill continues where the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act left off by propping up the same harmful industries BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour] and frontline communities have been fighting for decades.”
The bill is expected to win approval in House of Representatives in the coming days and then signed into law by President Joe Biden.