What the Inflation Reduction Act May Mean for African Americans

This post was originally published on The Washington Informer

By Kayla Benjamin

About 25 climate advocates stood near the Capitol building to support the passage of the nation’s biggest investment in climate change action at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 12. By 5:00 p.m., more than 200 people had gathered to celebrate as the bill passed with votes from every Democratic representative.

Though the bill’s biggest funding goes toward renewable energy subsidies and pollution-fighting programs, the crowd included a broad progressive coalition. Provisions aimed at lowering health care costs and energy bills also made it into the final legislation, alongside measures to reduce the federal deficit.

Titled the Inflation Reduction Act, the bill passed both the House and the Senate in strict party-line votes. President Biden signed it into law Tuesday, August 16.

“This bill is historic – it will do a lot of things for Black Americans who are disproportionately impacted by climate change, prescription drug costs and health care costs,” said Bart Rutherford, the director of state partnerships for Building Back Together, a group that supports the Biden-Harris policy agenda. “But there’s more work to be done.”

Analysts have generally agreed that the Inflation Reduction Act will only have a modest impact on inflation over the bill’s 10-year lifespan, according to reporting from NPR’s Juliana Kim. Climate and environmental justice advocates remain concerned that it opens up big swaths of public land for potential fossil fuel drilling. These oil and natural gas projects would disproportionately pollute the same communities that have historically faced environmental injustice, Earthjustice Healthy Communities scientist Michelle Mabson said.

Still, Blacks stand to benefit from a number of the bill’s key measures including health care savings and tax credits that can enable low- and middle-income to buy electric cars or install renewable energy technology in their homes.

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