August 16, 2022 By Ramona du Houx Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) lawmakers from across the country, who are also veterans, thanked President Biden for finalizing The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 — a critically important step for inflation, our nation’s security and the health of the planet at a National Press Club press conference on August 15, […]
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) lawmakers from across the country, who are also veterans, thanked President Biden for finalizing The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 — a critically important step for inflation, our nation’s security and the health of the planet at a National Press Club press conference on August 15, 2022. Importantly, they also implored President Biden to make a National Climate Emergency Declaration, which would unleash his presidential powers to reach a 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 to combat the existential national security threat of the climate crisis.
The IRA will be transformative with $369 billion for various tax credits and measures that will help stimulate adoption of clean energy technologies. The IRA makes the largest ever American investment in climate, justice, clean energy, jobs, and lowers consumer costs while supporting critical programs to improve the health and wellbeing of American families. It would help slash climate pollution in the U.S. by an estimated 40 percent by the end of the decade, according to at least three separate analyses by think tanks and academic institutions. However, the goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change is a 50 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2030.
Because the only way to pass this legislation was a compromise with an individual connected to the fossil fuel industry, EOPA recognizes its faults and the additional work that must take place for a just transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy by accelerating fossil fuel reductions.
“Elected Officials to Protect America commends the leadership it took to move this historic legislation forward. The IRA’s critical investments will help solve the climate crisis and help frontline communities,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America, and Co-Founder. Even with this unprecedented investment in our security, health, and prosperity, we still have a way to go to meet the 50 percent emission reduction goal by 2030 that scientists, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the President have set – or the world will suffer mass migrations and conflicts caused by the lack of water, food, and deadly weather. Only energy independence from fossil fuels will insulate us from the wild fluctuations of oil and gas prices, and help other nations transition to a clean energy future. America can lead the way. Our prosperity, economy, and national security depend on it.”
Veterans who are elected officials know firsthand that the climate crisis is a national security threat. American military leaders have been taking climate seriously for years.
The Pentagon first called global warming a “threat multiplier” in 2014, and openly says that climate change is a risk to national security. Direct threats from extreme weather will increase conflicts around the world as drought and floods impact critical water and food supplies, thereby creating vast mass refugee migrations.
“Our Ancient Redwood trees have been completely decimated. Millions of acres of Redwoods that once cleaned our atmosphere are gone. The Yurok people have been taught how to steward the environment directly from the Creator. The Yurok Religion is the responsibility of living on the land in a good way as stewards. It’s time humanity sees the wisdom of working with nature. From our perspective our world has been thrown out of balance. While this IRA bill will help it falls short in hitting the mark of what is needed. The President must declare a National Climate Emergency to help restore balance to the world,” said Yurok Tribe Councilmember Phillip Williams, CA, Army Veteran.
The cost of inaction on climate is too high and increasing every second we delay. The last seven years were the hottest on record. This year prices at the pump skyrocketed, showing exactly why we can never drill our way to true energy security. Fossil fuels are globally traded commodities, which leaves the U.S. economy dangerously exposed to the vagaries and volatility of energy prices.
“With increased extreme weather events due to fossil fuel emissions, and uncontrollable energy prices the global climate crisis is a significant threat to America’s national security. This clear and present danger will persist as long as our homes, businesses and industry remain dependent on fossil fuels. Only by reducing our use of fossil fuels can we insulate America’s economy from fossil fuel price shocks, hold back extreme weather, and eventually achieve true energy independence,” said Christian Brock, CEO of Elected Officials to Protect America, Air Force Veteran. “While we commend the IRA, unfortunately we need to recognize its faults containing certain preferential treatment to the fossil fuel industry that will impact the communities of color and low income the most. The oil industry is in large part responsible for the climate crisis. All oil and gas leasing on public lands should be prohibited. EOPA will continue to work towards a clean energy economy to protect our people and planet.”
Specifically, the IRA would require the Interior Department to offer at least 2 million acres of public lands and 60 million acres of offshore waters for oil and gas leasing each year for a decade as a prerequisite to installing any new solar or wind energy. If the department failed to offer these minimum amounts for leasing, no right-of-way could be granted for any utility-scale renewable energy project on public lands or waters.
Second quarter oil industry reports show that they raked in $114 billion in record profits at a time when American families have been paying record energy prices. At least $63 billion of that went to their executives and wealthy shareholdersthrough stock buybacks and dividend payments, exhibiting their profiteering while Americans suffered. Additionally, during the height of the pandemic these companies cut back production due to less consumption. When the energy crisis hit, they could have easily turned back on those oil pipes to relieve the situation. Yet, fossil fuel companies continue to get tax-payer funds. In 2020 the coal, oil, and natural gas companies received $5.9 trillion in subsidies.
“We are stewards of the lands, yet fossil fuel companies still invade with pipelines and production. We need to hold these companies responsible. President Biden must take bold action and declare a National Climate Emergency to ensure a 100 percent clean energy economy,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Vice President and past President, Quinault Nation, Taholah, Washington State.
$5 billion for greenhouse gas reduction grants to states, tribes, municipalities and pollution control agencies is allocated in the iRA.
According to the EPA, the transportation sector is the number one contributor to climate change in the United States. Not only does vehicle pollution accelerate climate change, it also contributes to health conditions caused by poor air quality, and poses major risks to public health and premature death, especially in low-income and communities of color located near fossil fuel refineries and heavily trafficked roads. They also tend to be the same areas most susceptible to deadly heat waves, flooding, wildfires and other extreme weather events. Cars and light-duty vehicles make up more than 20 percent of all U.S. gas emissions and 45 percent of all U.S. oil consumption.
President Biden’s landmark $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $7.5 billion to help accelerate electric vehicle adoption to build a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations that will increase charging availability, thereby setting the stage for the IRA in many ways, especially for electric vehicles that don’t pollute.
“I have three schools in my district that run along the freeway. The health hazard is very real to the thousands of kids who attend those schools. The IRA gives consumers a game changing tax credit to buy any electric vehicle or fuel cell vehicle, new or used, and a tax credit for up to $7,500 if those vehicles are made in America. The also has rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, to weatherize homes, and tax credits for heat pumps and rooftop solar. It’s a major step to energy independence, despite opening up public lands to more fossil fuel leases,” said Debbie Sariñana, New Mexico State Representative Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council Chair, former school teacher.” The IRA has the power to make alternative energies the way of the future and diminish our dependency on fossil fuels. Now we need the president to make a National Emergency Climate Declaration so we can meet the goal of a 50 percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 2030. This is a national security issue. The only way to prevent tyrannical leaders from getting the financial resources they need to create conflicts is to reduce, and eventually eliminate, our dependency on fossil fuels.”
The European Union has been relying on Russian fossil fuels with annual oil exports fulfilling 40 percent of demand across the continent.
Meanwhile, global supportive public policies have scaled up wind and solar power, driving down costs by 72 percent for wind and 90 percent for solar since 2009. These alternative energy technologies are now the cheapest and fastest growing sources of electricity available today. Wind and solar won dedicated tax credits years ago and became the two largest sources of new power plant capacity in 2021. But the technologies to store the electricity have had to scrape by without their own tax credit until the IRA.
“The Inflation Reduction Act includes a standalone investment tax credit (ITC) specifically for energy-storage projects, which would support all sorts of storage technologies. Building more storage capacity makes the grid more efficient at absorbing large amounts of renewable generation. The tax credit will promote a level playing field on the grid, thereby increasing the speed at which we can deploy storage nationwide,” said Mike Turner, Supervisor, Loudoun County, VA, Air Force Veteran, Energy Subcommittee Chair of the National Association of Counties, and EOPA National Leadership Council. “Fossil fuels represent a clear and present danger to nations that rely on them for energy. Putin’s fossil fuel stranglehold on the European Union (EU) brings this stark reality into perspective. The security of peaceful democratic nations relies, in large part, on curbing greenhouse gas emissions and their dependency on fossil fuels.”
Putin used profits from oil and gas to wage his war knowing the EU wouldn’t put sanctions on their energy source during peak need.
Additionally, his Ukraine war has been used by fossil fuel corporations as an excuse to push for more drilling domestically while raising gas prices and protecting their profits. Increasing U.S. production would only deepen Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and ours. Putin is not the first dictator to leverage power over countries dependent on oil. If we don’t stop using fossil fuels, he most likely won’t be the last.
“We cannot afford to ignore America’s persistent economic vulnerability — fossil fuels. Leading experts agree a faster transition to clean energy would lead to more stable energy economies worldwide,” said Allen Park City Councilmember Gary Schlack, MI, Army Veteran. “Combating the clear and present danger of climate change for our national security and that of the world is imperative. The IRA has the power to spur deflationary clean energy projects, improve health outcomes, create millions of jobs, while creating savings for Americans. But substantially more needs to be done for frontline communities. President Biden needs to Declare a Climate Emergency.”
An EOPA letter signed by over 1,000 elected officials asks the President to declare a National Climate Emergency, for the Defense Production Act to be invoked as part of a climate plan, and for Congress to take significant climate action. After EOPA, Congressional members, and a wide range of environmental organizations urged the president to invoke the DPA President Biden did, for manufacturing solar, heat pumps and weatherization of homes.The IRA provides an additional $500 million for the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.
“Inflation this year has impacted our community tremendously. When you compound it with the climate emergency we are living in with record heat, unprecedented snowstorms, flooding, and more that we had across the country, and in my Town of Dumfries there is no doubt we need to take action against this national security threat,” said Mayor Derrick R Wood, Mayor Town of Dumfries, VA, Marine Veteran. “I appreciate the $60 billion for environmental injustice set aside in the IRA for disadvantaged communities, but more must be done.”
America excels in ramping up production of materials to combat a crisis. In 1940 the United States produced less than 5 percent of the world’s manufactured goods. By 1945 it was over 80 percent. Lend Lease became law to meet the needs of WWII as An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States. The DPA will put thousands to work in manufacturing for a clean energy economy.
The EOPA press conference kicked off their annual D.C. Climate Emergency & Energy Security Summit. After the press conference over 100 elected officials from across America convened at the Department of Energy, along with over 300 virtually, and were briefed on DoE policies, White House accomplishments and administration energy goals. Importantly, other guest speakers at the Summit highlighted unique clean energy solutions.
The threat multiplier—
Some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Climate change is making that reality worse as droughts often exacerbate divisions and lead to conflict. In Afghanistan around 22.8 million people, 55 percent of the population, are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land.
Ukraine and Russia are important food suppliers for low – and middle-income countries in which tens of millions of people are already food insecure, many in Africa. Combined, their exports were responsible for about 26 percent of global wheat in 2020. The Horn of Africa is in a prolonged drought and food and gas prices are out of the reach of millions. Over 2.2 children are at extreme risk for starvation. As many as 25 African countries, including many of the least developed, import more than one-third of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and 15 of them more than half.
The climate danger at home —
As temperatures continue to climb, extreme weather events are more likely to overlap— testing the limits of the nation’s resilience and recovery while posing a national security threat. When destructive fires, a devastating mega drought, and torrential floods overlap they are catastrophic to multiple communities simultaneously causing destruction. Scientists say these events are more frequent, and that the climate crisis is a key culprit. Emergency capacity is stretched when these events build on one another, either regionally or sequentially. Scientists call this increasing threat a “compound extreme.”
Roughly 44 percent of the American west has been categorized in extreme drought, according to the US drought monitor. Swaths of the west will go without hope of precipitation through the summer and into autumn which will increase the risk of wildfires.Last year, the US spent an alarming $145 billion on climate disasters – the third highest amount on record – and grappled with 20 extreme events that cost more than $1 billion each, close to triple the average since 1980.