The Inflation Reduction Act: a “Trojan Horse” for oil and gas companies


(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden arrives with Vice President Kamala Harris and Lovette Jacobs, a fifth-year IBEW Local 103 electrical apprentice in Boston, during a ceremony about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

Global warming has been a hot-button topic (no pun intended) for decades now because of the pressing nature of the climate crisis. White House Archives state that the global temperature has risen over a degree between 1895 and 1995, which is already an exponential increase from the century before then. Even more daunting is the fact that National Geographic says that the global temperature has increased more than another whole degree since just 2009. 

There are a laundry list of impacts from global warming including, but not limited to, an increase in natural disasters, mass species extinction, energy blackouts and eventual irreversible change to the face of the earth. 

Now more than ever, governments across the world are implementing legislation to slow the effects of climate change. This is reflected in policies such as the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the European Union’s proposed goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and President Joe Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement after his inauguration in early 2021. However, some laws proposed by the president that appear to be environmentally conscious are actually security measures for nonrenewable energy companies in disguise. One prime example of this is the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the IRA). 

Undoubtedly, the bill promises benefits like cutting prescription drug costs, lowering healthcare costs and making the tax code “fairer” such as taxing the top 1% more. Within the bill, there are also mentions of environmental positives like promoting the reduction of pollution, lowering energy costs and providing new methods of clean energy with solar panels, wind turbines and protecting over two million acres of forest. 

While this policy may initially seem positive, the Indigenous Environmental Network describes the IRA as a “trojan horse” that is a “wholesale package to distract the public from the inaction of the federal government and ensure our path to climate catastrophe.” Many believe that this bill is a distraction employed by the Biden administration to create the appearance of climate-beneficial laws while putting the American economy first overall. 

One main issue with the bill is that it directly links the production of clean energy to that of fossil fuels and gas. For example, there can be no sale of offshore wind leases without a corresponding sale in offshore oil and gas leases. In layman’s terms, clean energy production only increases as nonrenewable energy increases, almost canceling any benefits the country may receive from these turbines. 

Another problem with the bill is its vague language such as the term “environmental justice priorities.” This term is not quantifiable because the bill does not specify what these priorities are or how to measure them. This allows funding to be distributed to organizations that may not have anything to do with the environment; the vague language prevents any governmental checks on the progress of the mission of these corporations. Under these terms, any organization can claim to be environmentally friendly but they do not have to provide sufficient proof of their contributions to ending the climate crisis. 

Also, even if the bill did not have an internal link to the oil and gas industry, there is a question if the legislation is even enough to prevent global warming as it seems so inevitable. Even with the adoption of new climate measures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration still predicts that the global temperature will continue to rise. 

Colin Swearingen, a professor of Political Science at John Carroll, says that it is important to ask what the main goal of the legislation is, stating that it could be a “feel-good bill that goes further than our federal government has ever gone in its attempt to curb climate change” which “plays to [Biden’s] base rather well.

“While this will allocate $360+ billion in climate change funding, many of its initiatives have been tried before, albeit on a smaller scale, in the 2009 Obama stimulus package,” Swearingen told The Carroll News. “The results then were mixed. Will the bill reduce US carbon emissions?  Probably, and possibly significantly.  Is it enough to lower global temperatures?  Unlikely.  And if that’s the ultimate goal of this bill, I’m skeptical that it will make much of a difference by 2030.”

While many sources claim that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is climate gold, and it does truly have some benefits, the facts underneath the lofty promises show how important it is to investigate policies created and know the full story before blindly endorsing it. Legislation is not so often single-sided and research is imperative to truly understand the gravity of the laws at hand. Undoubtedly, most governments across the world have hopes to curb global warming. However, many are not willing to halt their own economic growth no matter the environmental cost.