Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 15, 2023


Jean Su, (415) 770-3187,

Inflation Reduction Act Anniversary Raises Urgency for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

WASHINGTON— One year after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the need is more urgent than ever for him to declare a climate emergency, phase out fossil fuels, and fast-track distributed energy systems.

“It’s clear that the IRA is not enough,” said Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This summer has been an absolute horror show of the catastrophic consequences of burning fossil fuels. President Biden needs to run, not walk, away from the climate catastrophe of fossil fuels. Every time his administration approves another oil or gas project, it pushes us toward a more hellish future. Biden should use all his executive powers to speed the end of the fossil fuel era, because every tenth of a degree matters. Unless he does, these projects will perpetuate human suffering, environmental racism, and wildlife extinction. They’ll just keep on cooking the planet.”

The IRA failed to directly curb oil, gas and coal, which make up 85% of climate-heating pollution. Even if every renewable incentive in the Inflation Reduction Act's $369 billion package works perfectly, in tandem with existing measures the law will not meet Biden's commitment to cut carbon pollution 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Biden’s use of executive powers to curb fossil fuels directly can make up this gap.

The IRA fails to stop U.S. exports of fossil fuels abroad. The United States is the leading exporter of oil and gas around the world. That production perpetuates pollution and environmental racism in communities at the site of extraction and export. The combustion abroad of U.S. fossil fuels also increases global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Act also contained several fossil fuel poison pills, including new oil and gas leasing mandates and credits for dangerous and unproven technologies like carbon capture and storage. The IRA deal was struck with a promise to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) to greenlight the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which passed in June.

Under Biden’s ordinary executive powers and emergency executive powers, he can:

  • Curb fossil fuel production where the Inflation Reduction Act did not, including stopping all approvals of new oil and gas projects, phasing out the production of oil, gas and coal on our public lands and waters, and halting fossil fuel exports.
  • Stop the hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private finance for fossil fuel projects abroad through his powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
  • Direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to deploy distributed energy systems, like community and rooftop solar, with post-disaster funds and IRA financing to maximize resilient and affordable clean energy systems.
  • Declare heat as a major disaster event under the Stafford Act. This will allow states to access more heat-relief funds for things like cooling and water centers in areas accessible to those most affected by heat, including poor and unhoused people, as well as agricultural and other workers.

On Sept. 17 thousands of people will participate in the March to End Fossil Fuels, urging Biden to declare a climate emergency and use all his executive powers to speed the end of the fossil fuel era. The New York City march is part of a mass global escalation to end fossil fuels, with mobilizations occurring around the world on Sept. 15.

The mass mobilizations support the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit in New York, the first-ever climate summit urging countries to present credible fossil fuel phaseout plans and commit to no new fossil fuel development.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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