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Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

2022 Oil Change International Supporter Briefing

Victory against Manchin’s “Dirty Deal”!

By Larry Williams, Jr. - Labor Network for Sustainability, October 30, 2022

Dear friends,

We’re celebrating the recent defeat of US Senator Joe Manchin’s “Dirty Deal.” This was a proposal to undermine environmental reviews and fast-track fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Today, we’d like to lift up the board members of the Labor Network for Sustainability who fought tooth and nail to oppose this Dirty Deal. LNS Board Members Jennifer Krill and Edgar Franks recently joined an action in the Hart Senate Building in Washington DC, in which Jennifer was arrested in an act of civil disobedience to oppose the deal.

Jennifer Krill stated: “Prioritizing the climate crisis means prioritizing environmental justice. Legislation that leads to more drilling and mining is precisely the kind of political side-dealing that has set us back from meeting our urgent climate goals. We’re grateful that members of Congress have taken action to stop the exploitation of frontline communities and stand up to the fossil fuel and mining industries. Congress has sacrificed people for corporate profits for far too long.”

Edgar Franks stated: “We as a farmworker union want to stand on the side of environmental justice. We are one of the communities that are bearing the brunt of climate change and also some of the most disenfranchised politically. The Dirty Deal was filled with mechanisms that further widen the divide where we will continue to be sacrificed for profits to the fossil fuel industry. We look for the time where we will not have to pit environment over jobs. As unions we need to be present and demand real solutions that are led by affected communities.”

But of course, this victory does not belong to us. It belongs to the many environmental justice leaders from across the country who’ve taken a stand against the Dirty Deal. It belongs to the communities in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Alaska and everywhere in between. And it belongs to you.

To every member of the Labor Network for Sustainability—thank you. Whether you signed a petition, emailed or called your Senator, marched in a rally, risked arrest, or donated to support the cause, this is your victory.

We know the fight’s not over. Manchin will stop at nothing to cater to the fossil fuel industry, and we expect him to try to force through a similar deal later this year. But in the meantime, we can celebrate this moment and take stock of all we hold dear.

Thanks for being part of this movement.

A Discussion on the Inflation Reduction Act and Climate Justice

Making It Make Sense: Equitable Transition and What EJ Advocates Should Know about the IRA

A Just Transition Primer from Global Climate Justice Leaders

By Molly Rosbach - Sunflower Alliance, October 1, 2022

A new report from leaders of the global climate justice movement argues that “a broad vision of Just Transition with social justice at its core is critical, especially as fossil fuel companies and defenders of ‘business as usual’ are adopting the language of climate action and just transition to thwart real solutions.”

The report, From Crisis to Transformation: A Just Transition Primer, released by Grassroots Global Justice and the Transnational Institute, “explores the root causes of the climate crisis . . . and argues that we need transformative and anti-capitalist visions to bring us “from crisis to transformation.” The report lays out the big picture of those causes, starting from colonialism, capitalism, and the industrial revolution, and traces the development of the current crisis. It outlines key elements of a true just transition:

  • Decolonization and restoration of indigenous sovereignty
  • Reparations and restitution
  • Ancestral and science-based solutions
  • Agroecology, food sovereignty, and agrarian reform
  • Recognition of rights to land, food, ecosystems, and territories
  • Cooperatives, social, and public production
  • Just distribution of reproductive labor
  • Going beyond endless economic growth

And provides case studies of communities putting visions of Just Transition into practice today:
* The Green New Deal
* Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson Just Transition Plan
* Just Transition in North Africa
* Movement of People Affected by Dams

Authors of the report include Jaron Brown of Grassroots Global Justice, Katie Sandwell and Lyda Fernanda Forero of the Transnational Institute, and Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson.

The report was released in Arabic, Spanish, and English, with plans to add translations in Bahasa, French, and Portuguese.

Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) “is an alliance of over 60 US-based grassroots organizing (GRO) groups of working and poor people and communities of color,” including the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Jobs with Justice, Cooperation Jackson and many more.

The Transnational Institute “is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic, and sustainable planet.”

They “offer this primer as a contribution to the broader ecosystem of Just Transition frameworks and articulations. In particular, we honor the work of the Just Transition Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Climate Justice Alliance, Movement Generation, the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, among many others.”

Industrial Policy Without Industrial Unions

By Lee Harris - The American Prospect, September 28, 2022

In August, as President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, pledging to build American semiconductor factories, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker posed on the White House lawn, flanked by the chief executives of vehicle companies Ford, Lion Electric, and Rivian. Thanks to billions of dollars in federal and state investments, Pritzker said, his constituents could expect a manufacturing revival, and “good-paying, union jobs.”

Illinois is refashioning itself as a center for electric vehicle (EV) production and a cluster of related industries, such as microchips. The state just passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, its flagship industrial-policy plan, and has passed MICRO, a complement to federal CHIPS subsidies. Pritzker is hungry for Chicago to host the upcoming Democratic convention and take a victory lap at factory openings.

But he may have to trot out non-union autoworkers at the ribbon cuttings.

Ford, a “Big Three” union automaker, boasts that the F-150 is a “legendary union-built vehicle,” but battery production is being outsourced to non-union shops. Bus producer Lion Electric is under pressure to use organized labor, but has yet to make public commitments on allowing a union election without interference. Electric-truck startup Rivian, which is 18 percent owned by Amazon, has been plagued by workplace injuries and labor violations. Illinois’s attorney general recently uncovered a scheme to renovate its downstate plant with workers brought in from Mexico, who were cheated out of overtime pay.

Democrats are giddy about the arrival of green industrial policy. With last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, CHIPS, and the new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Congress has poured money into setting off green growth. The main messaging behind this policy is that government investment can create attractive jobs, and a new political base, by manufacturing the clean technologies of the future.

If you squint, you could almost mistake the IRA’s robust Buy American provisions for worker protections. They are often mentioned in the same sentence. But while new spending is likely to onshore manufacturing, it largely lacks provisions ensuring that those new jobs will adhere to high-road labor standards, let alone that they will be unionized.

Instead, the political logic of the bill is a gamble. The energy sector is still dominated by oil and gas. To accelerate the transition, it will be necessary to create large countervailing industries. After decades of offshoring, the first aim for green manufacturing is to make sure that it happens here at all. The IRA alone could produce as many as nine million jobs over the next decade, according to an analysis by University of Massachusetts Amherst and the labor-environmental coalition BlueGreen Alliance. Many of those jobs will be in old Democratic strongholds where the party is now hemorrhaging support, like mining in Nevada and auto production in the Midwest.

Supporters hope that once new green jobs are created, a mass labor coalition could follow. As Nathan Iyer, an analyst at the climate consultant RMI, told the Prospect in a recent podcast, “It’s hard to have a workers-based movement, and build workers’ power, if there are no workers.”

Biden Promised “Good-Paying Union Jobs,” But It Will Take Organizing to Get Them

By Leanna First-Arai - Truthout, September 27, 2022

Since the historic and controversial Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was signed into law in August, the economy has begun showing early signs of shifting and recalibrating beneath our feet. Honda Motor Company and LG Energy Solution have announced plans for a lithium ion battery plant, with their sights on Ohio; hiring has ticked up at a small business in Texas that builds wind and solar power plants; and the state of Connecticut is soliciting applications for millions in funding for community-led climate adaptation plans in anticipation of IRA funds to come, plus funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law signed last year. The IRA set aside $369 billion in climate and energy spending, which researchers estimate will translate to 9 million jobs over the next decade.

But as cities, states, nonprofits, industry groups and corporations all scramble to sweep up a slice of that funding, the degree to which these jobs will live up to being the Biden administration’s promise of “good-paying union jobs” remains to be seen. So too does whether and how those positions will be made available to the frontline and fenceline communities of color that have suffered the most from decades of disinvestment, pollution and manipulation at the hands of the fossil fuel industry, as well as to those working in the industry itself.

“Having that stuff in the federal bill is great, but unless we are organizing to bring these things into reality, it’s not going to happen,” said Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO at a Climate Jobs Summit earlier this month. Levy warned that Republican-led state officials and contractors could be wary over accepting clean energy grants and tax breaks from the federal government, given the labor protections and training stipulations the money is contingent upon.

UAW Joins BlueGreen Alliance

By staff - BlueGreen Alliance, September 21, 2022

The BlueGreen Alliance today announced the United Auto Workers (UAW) will join its growing national labor-environmental partnership and its fight for a clean, prosperous, and equitable economy. The announcement comes at a vital time in the domestic auto industry. The industry is at a crossroads, with the United States poised to be a global leader in clean vehicle and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing—helping to bring back high-skill, high-wage, union jobs.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) has more than 400,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico and more than 600 local unions. The UAW currently has 1,750 contracts with some 1,050 employers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

“The growth of EVs is an opportunity to re-invest in U.S. manufacturing while addressing the pressing needs of climate change,” UAW President Ray Curry said. “Our union works continuously to make sure that these jobs will be good-paying union jobs that benefit our communities. By joining BlueGreen Alliance, we know our voices will be amplified and our advocacy strengthened.”

Leadership from both organizations said they look forward to working with the Biden administration as it implements the massive investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—and CHIPS and Science Act to create good-paying union jobs, fight economic and racial injustice, and reduce the emissions driving climate change.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act provide significant resources to build out our nation’s manufacturing base, create good union jobs and secure a cleaner future,” said Tom Conway, United Steelworkers (USW) International President and co-chair of the BlueGreen Alliance. “We’re proud to welcome the UAW to our alliance, as we continue to work with the administration to ensure these investments strengthen workers and their communities for generations to come.”

“President Biden and Democrats in Congress have taken historic action to address the climate crisis through the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. These efforts are not only critical for the future of humanity, but they also will create millions of good-paying union jobs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and co-chair of the BlueGreen Alliance. “The UAW is leading the charge to create good-paying jobs building zero-emission vehicles, and we are thrilled they are joining the BlueGreen Alliance as we work together to create an equitable and just future for all.”

Founded in 2006 by the USW and Sierra Club, the BlueGreen Alliance now unites 14 labor unions and environmental organizations collectively representing millions of members and supporters.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us to build a clean, prosperous, and equitable future for all,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “The good news is we’re not in this alone. We have worked alongside UAW for years to get investments and policies in place to manufacture clean cars, EVs, and their components in the United States—with union labor. The leadership and members of the UAW are on the front lines of building that future and we welcome them to our partnership.”

New Analysis Destroys Fossil Fuel Industry's Misleading US Job Claims

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, September 19, 2022

"Their false claims do not add up and cannot be allowed to stall a rapid transition to 100% clean, renewable energy," says the Food & Water Watch report.

A Food & Water Watch report released Monday undermines the fossil fuel industry's claims about its positive impact on employment, showing that as oil and gas giants ramped up production and raked in record profits at the planet's expense, jobs have declined.

The advocacy group's fact sheet—titled Oil Profits and Production Grow at the Expense of Jobs, Consumers, and the Environment—comes as scientists continue to call for a swift transition to clean energy and critics around the world accuse the fossil fuel industry of war profiteering.

"The oil and gas industry would rather pay shareholders than workers," said Food & Water Watch (FWW) senior researcher Oakley Shelton-Thomas. "It should be clear by now that more production means more pollution, but it hasn't meant lower prices or more jobs."

Labor Network for Sustainability says workers need environmental protection, not Joe Manchin’s dirty side-deal

By Labor Network for Sustainability - Red, Green, and Blue, September 17, 2022

Right now there is a new threat to environmental protection. A recently leaked draft bill text – bearing the watermark of the American Petroleum Institute – would override the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by accelerating permitting review and timelines for energy development projects. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are now planning to attach these requirements to a “must-pass” federal budget resolution.

The deal would likely undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the fundamental law protecting the US environment, which was passed almost unanimously by Congress half-a-century ago. It is expected to greatly shorten the time available to consider whether projects should be given permits for fossil fuel infrastructure – meaning that our local communities simply won’t have time to make effective arguments to pipelines, wells, and other projects that may damage their environment forever.

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