On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. This act makes provisions for healthcare, job opportunities, and climate and energy security. The law contains clean energy infrastructure for transportation, housing, solar, and wind facilities, prioritizing low-income and environmental justice communities. Through the IRA, around $60 billion will be allocated toward environmental justice communities and low-income communities with investments made towards infrastructure and improved funding. 

The Biden administration has been forward in its response to meeting demands of climate and clean energy transition. Early on, the administration demonstrated its commitment to mitigating climate impacts and consideration to environmental justice by issuing Executive Order 14008 titled Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. While that order quickly set the pace in putting climate and environmental justice discourse forefront, the recent Inflation Reduction Act builds on previous efforts including climate bills, Build Back Better Act (BBBA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) (IIJA), placing the nation at an advantageous position to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach climate targets in the near decade.  

The IRA provides an opportunity to establish clean energy infrastructure in low-income and environmental justice communities. Such infrastructure can provide energy credit for solar and wind facilities situated in the communities, thus ensuring increased clean energy deployment and economic benefit to those overburdened and disadvantaged communities. The dividends for environmental and climate justice were expanded to include grants and financial incentives provided through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transport (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a few other federal agencies. This will provide federal intervention that reaches environmental justice communities, low-income communities, and tribal communities to reduce pollution and environmental injustice across the country.  

The Inflation Reduction Act provides funding for pollution monitoring equipment and cleanups needed to address environmental injustice—a key provision for which Acadia Center advocated as a companion policy to the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).  While the law is particularly aimed to provide infrastructure on clean technologies that get situated in already disadvantaged communities, it is essential that implementation of these programs, grants, and financial incentives are administered with clarity through a transparent approach that is led by the voices and participation of communities across the country. 

Though the Inflation Reduction Act may be the biggest and most ambitious climate legislation enacted to provide climate solutions and support low-income communities, environmental justice communities, and tribal communities, continued climate leadership and stewardship is needed for climate solutions and environmental justice. The White House Interagency on Environmental Justice and White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, both created through Executive Order 14008, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), are examples of equity and environmental justice stewardship at the federal level. With more state and municipality-level engagement from communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities, equity and environmental justice in climate action becomes foreseeable. 

For more information: 

Joy Yakie, Manager, Environmental Justice and Outreach, jyakie@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x110