Climate Justice Alliance
September 25, House Democrats passed the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act. This flawed bill is deeply tainted by the inclusion of proposals that are not only unacceptable to the Environmental Justice (EJ) community, but dangerous to the climate and the planet.
Of particular concern is the focus on and investment in nuclear energy, as well as the promotion of risky, unproven carbon removal schemes.
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network stated, “We are shocked to see the Democratic Party promoting nuclear energy at this time. The energy bill perpetuates the continuation of nuclear-radioactive colonialism that has caused a legacy of doom and death to Native families in the uranium corridor of New Mexico. Pueblo and Navajo people in the Southwest have long been forced to bear the devastating effects of the U.S. and industries mining uranium as the fuel stock for nuclear energy generation.” He added, “There are no safe nuclear waste transportation and disposal methods. The U.S. government, the nuclear industry, and electric power generators have always tried to store highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors on and near our traditional Native lands and territories. It is a false solution to climate change.”
The bill’s reliance on carbon removal/capture technology makes us question if House Democratic leadership are serious about acting on climate change or just offering specious lip service. Capture of carbon dioxide has long been used by the fossil fuel industry for injection in nearly spent oil wells to keep them producing. At a time when scientists are telling us we must leave 80% of remaining fossil fuel deposits in the ground, HR 4447 gives financially strapped fossil fuel cartels an unnecessary lifeline via perverse and harmful subsidies.
In discussing why reliance on unproven technologies is problematic, Basav Sen of Institute for Policy Studies explained, “Relying on the notion of capturing carbon and removing it from the atmosphere is a risky venture. There is no safe and sure way to store carbon long-term in geological formations and utilizing captured carbon in goods production temporarily masks the carbon until the product is burned or otherwise disposed of, when it is returned to the atmosphere.” Sen went on to say, “The recent shut down of the Petra Nova coal CCS plant in Texas proves that these speculative technologies do nothing to cut carbon emissions or move us away from fossil fuel use and extraction. They are false solutions that provide yet another way to channel funding to the bloated fossil fuel industry. Using an industrial plant to capture carbon dioxide to then be utilized for enhanced oil recovery is not a climate solution as much as it’s a climate scam.”
Climate Justice Alliance understands that many of the lawmakers who voted for the bill, and the Big Green organizations who pushed them to do so, point to the environmental justice provisions contained therein. However, it was inappropriate and antithetical to the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing for these groups to take such a stance without consulting with our members who were integral in drafting the Environmental Justice (EJ) provisions over the last year with Chairman Grijalva. Climate Justice Alliance and its members were not consulted or even informed until the final hour that these provisions would be included as a part of HR 4447.
Climate Justice Alliance’s Executive Director, Angela Mahecha Adrar, broke down the problematic use of Environmental Justice in the energy package, “The environmental justice provisions are nothing more than an afterthought, aimed to serve as a shiny ribbon wrapped around a dirty package. The bill as written will decrease environmental justice and increase environmental racism.” Mahecha Adrar continued, “The concept of net zero emissions is bad enough, but pushing an idea of net zero justice under the guise of Environmental Justice is irresponsible and insulting. Sadly, we keep having the same discussions with Big Green, majority white organizations about the need to be more inclusive and to stop speaking for the Environmental Justice communities that they don’t work with directly or live in. These are the communities who will be directly impacted by their promotion of this energy bill. Unfortunately, these conversations appear to fall on deaf ears. We will either come together for climate justice or burn together in climate catastrophe.”
Climate Justice Alliance thanks the 18 Democratic members of Congress (Rep. Doggett, Rep. Espaillat, Rep. García (IL), Rep. Gomez, Rep. Horn, Kendra S., Rep. Jayapal, Rep. Khanna, Rep. Levin (MI), Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B., Rep. McGovern, Rep. Meng, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Omar, Rep. Pressley, Rep. Raskin, Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Velázquez) who voted No on this bill and in so doing demonstrated solidarity with the climate justice movement and environmental justice communities.