The Inflation Reduction Act offers a generational opportunity to build an equitable clean energy future in Minnesota and the United States. McKnight’s Sarah Christiansen and Ben Passer shared their insights in a Community Voices piece for MinnPost. Below is an excerpt.
There is a lot to celebrate in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which makes a historic investment of $369 billion in climate and clean energy. It will speed the adoption of solutions like electric vehicles, solar, and wind, make our buildings cleaner and safer, create millions of manufacturing jobs, help the stewards of our farms and forests become climate champions, and provide $60 billion in dedicated funds for environmental justice. As these federal dollars pour into states and local communities from the IRA, we have an opportunity to build an equitable clean energy future.
In the last decade, the climate movement has grown larger and stronger, speaking up and not giving up as the impacts of climate change became more dire and impossible to ignore. Their tireless efforts got us to this point, and now it’s up to all of us to partner with state and local leaders to find creative ways to build a climate-friendly economy that don’t repeat past injustices.
Despite its many clean energy wins, there are fears that certain IRA provisions, like opening public lands to drilling and expanding incentives that keep fossil fuel plants operating, will perpetuate environmental harms in under-resourced communities of color that disproportionately host the most polluting facilities. Amid what scientists and many others have declared as a climate emergency, we have an obligation to end the cycle of ongoing harm to frontline communities, and to reverse our historical practices to advance a more vibrant future for everyone.
What we build and how we build it will have consequences that last a generation. Local and state leaders have an opportunity to center equity in the implementation of IRA by ensuring that the people most affected by pollution and climate impacts are involved in shaping the way forward—and truly benefit from the solutions.