The Paradox of the Inflation Reduction Act: Boosting Fossil Fuels Amid Climate Goals

Chloe Whisperwillow

Updated Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 5:01 AM CDT

The Paradox of the Inflation Reduction Act: Boosting Fossil Fuels Amid Climate Goals

The Inflation Reduction Act, hailed as a landmark climate policy by Democrats, has led to an unexpected surge in fossil fuel production, with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) celebrating record outputs. However, this increase belies the Act's projections, which forecast a 16% reduction in oil and gas consumption domestically by 2035, with the surplus primed for exportation.

Amidst this production paradox, the Biden administration faces mounting criticism for its perceived reluctance to rapidly curtail fossil fuel production, a move that climate scientists deem essential for environmental safety. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced his concerns, highlighting a worldwide failure to cut emissions substantially, and warning of a betrayal to those most vulnerable to climate change effects.

The Rhodium Group's findings indicate that while the U.S. is on a trajectory to lower emissions, it still falls short of the crucial 42% reduction required for a stable climate. To reach President Biden's ambitious climate targets, unwavering cooperation across all government levels is necessary. However, the current GOP-controlled House presents a formidable obstacle.

In a recent report, InfluenceMap revealed that American corporations' climate policies are grossly inadequate, with a staggering 93% showing only a weak alignment with climate action goals. Meanwhile, the UAE, host of the upcoming U.N. climate conference COP28, faces scrutiny over its oil and gas export dependency and the Kafala labor system, which exacerbates the suffering of migrant workers from climate-impacted regions.

Furthermore, New Jersey's initiative to cease new gas-powered car sales by 2035 and the U.S. plan to unveil a strategy for commercial fusion power at COP28 signal a commitment to change. Yet, the largest climate change legislation in U.S. history, enacted a year ago, grapples with economic hurdles that have led to the cancellation or downscaling of clean energy projects.

Companies like Orsted have abandoned offshore wind projects, while major automakers such as Tesla, Ford, and GM have had to cut back on EV production due to high costs and unreliable supply chains. The Inflation Reduction Act's tax incentives currently fall short of addressing setbacks in the clean energy sector, casting doubt on President Biden's attendance at COP28 in Dubai.

The United States' goal of decarbonization by mid-century grows increasingly challenging, with no major nation on track to meet the Paris accord emissions targets. Over 56 gigawatts of clean power projects have been delayed since late 2021, enough to power close to 10 million homes, due to industry challenges including gridlock and local opposition.

Experts like Prakash Sharma from Wood Mackenzie point out that investment increases are hindered by permitting and infrastructure issues not addressed by the IRA. Solar contract prices have risen by 4% to $50/MWh, driven by strong demand and tight supplies, as reported by LevelTen Energy.

Vic Abate of GE Vernova remains hopeful, believing the IRA's impact is merely delayed, with expectations of a shift from 2023-2024 to 2024-2025. However, the IRA's ambition to bolster the U.S. clean energy supply chain faces competition from new manufacturing capacities in Asia, threatening the viability of planned American factories.

The offshore wind industry is in disarray, with renegotiated contracts, cancellations, and multi-billion dollar writedowns by companies like Orsted, BP, and Equinor, putting the 30 gigawatts by 2030 target in jeopardy. Corporations are holding back on investment decisions as they await Treasury Department rules on utilizing IRA tax credits.

Companies such as POET are also in limbo, waiting for specific tax credit details under the IRA for sustainable aviation fuel before committing to investments. Despite these challenges, Dan R****er of Stanford University recognizes the significant progress in U.S. climate policy compared to prior administrations and views the current hurdles as typical fluctuations in the development of clean energy.

Conservative Bias:

Once again, the liberals have proven their ineptitude when it comes to practical policy-making. The Inflation Reduction Act, a pet project of the Democrats, promised a reduction in oil and gas consumption and a boost to clean energy. But what we have seen is an unexpected surge in fossil fuel production and a staggering number of American corporations failing to align with climate action goals. The liberals' lack of foresight and understanding of economic realities is evident as they grapple with economic hurdles that have led to the cancellation of clean energy projects. The tax incentives provided by the Act fall short of addressing setbacks in the clean energy sector, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the Democrats' climate policies. Despite their lofty rhetoric, they have failed to address the real issues hindering investment increases, such as permitting and infrastructure issues. The offshore wind industry is in disarray, and the goal of decarbonization by mid-century is increasingly challenging. It's clear that the Democrats' climate policies are all talk and no action.

Liberal Bias:

Conservatives are continuously blocking progress on climate change and clean energy initiatives. Despite the Inflation Reduction Act's potential to reduce oil and gas consumption and boost clean energy, the GOP-controlled House presents a formidable obstacle to achieving these goals. Climate scientists have deemed it essential to rapidly curtail fossil fuel production, but conservatives seem intent on ignoring their advice. The GOP's obstructionist stance is hindering the necessary cooperation across all government levels to reach President Biden's ambitious climate targets. Furthermore, the reluctance of corporations to align with climate action goals demonstrates the need for stronger regulations and corporate accountability - something conservatives are notoriously resistant to. The GOP's failure to support the necessary changes in policy and infrastructure is causing setbacks in the clean energy sector and jeopardizing the U.S.'s ability to meet the Paris accord emissions targets. Their short-sightedness and refusal to take climate change seriously is putting the future of our planet at risk.

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