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The Inflation Reduction Act:
Historic Climate Legislation with a Lifeline to Fossil Fuels
by Lan and Pam Richart
Published in the Public i
November 2022

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August, many environmental advocates and others concerned about rapidly rising global temperatures breathed a collective sigh of relief. The US finally is taking historic action to address the climate crisis. The IRA is the largest-ever US investment in tackling climate change. Those who crafted the bill say its $370 billion price tag will allow the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40 percent by 2030.

But among the welcomed parts of the bill—such as expanding renewable energy, supporting energy efficiency, and funding conservation stewardship—there lies a Trojan horse. Billions of dollars are now available to the fossil fuel industry for carbon capture and sequestration, disguised as a fundamental pillar of our nation’s carbon emission reduction plan. The net effect of this giveaway will be a prolonged reliance on fossil fuels and a diversion of much-needed funding away from the more effective and efficient paths of renewable energy.

In concept, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) seems like a brilliant idea: capture carbon dioxide from the air or carbon-emitting industries, pressurize it, and transport it via specialized pipelines to a predetermined location, then inject it underground where it is meant to stay for perpetuity. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels becomes less urgent if we can trap the carbon emissions and literally make them disappear forever. If only it were that simple. Each step in the process has its own technological, economic, and logistical challenges. And while CCS researchers continue to struggle with those challenges, the US government is ready to go all in on its implementation.

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