Action Alert: Our Moment is Here - Urge Congress to Pass Historic Climate Bill

Congress is finally on the verge of passing a sweeping budget bill that will tackle climate change and invest in public lands. Read on to hear more about what’s in the Inflation Reduction Act and take action to help secure a more sustainable future for all.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
August 05, 2022

As Mountaineers enjoy summer adventures across the Pacific Northwest, another season of wildfires, drought, and heat waves reminds us of the urgency to address the climate crisis. Our public lands, waters, and communities simply can’t wait any longer for bold action to address the impacts of climate change.

The last year has been a roller coaster ride for the prospect of passing meaningful climate legislation through Congress. This spring, as federal climate negotiations were quickly gaining momentum, Mountaineers took action to tell lawmakers to secure the climate solutions we desperately need. Our conservation team continued to share the reasons why addressing climate change is so important to the outdoor recreation community with congressional staff.

While prospects of a climate deal looked grim as we approached Congress’s August break, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently announced that they had come to a consensus on a package to address climate change, energy independence, health care, inflation, and the federal deficit. This package is the meaningful climate action we’ve been pushing for, but we need your help to get it over the finish line.

Take Action

THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

 This new package of bills - the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) - contains $369 billion in climate provisions. While it’s not the original $555 billion of climate investments we’ve been advocating for - and is missing important components like a Civilian Climate Corps program - it would be the largest effort to address the climate crisis in our nation’s history.

Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Addressing our carbon emissions is an enormous part of slowing the climate crisis. One of the most important ways this package would help address climate change is through various provisions and tax incentives for emissions reductions and clean energy. The Act is estimated to result in up to a 44 percent reduction of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. While a transition to a clean energy economy will take time, this would be a great step in the right direction - and one we can’t wait any longer to make. Learn more about how The Mountaineers is working to reduce our community’s carbon footprint here.

Investing in Public Lands

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes some critical investments in our federal public lands. With new funding for conservation, resilience, and restoration efforts, agencies like the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will have additional resources to continue to leverage public lands in the fight against the climate crisis.

The bill specifically includes more than two billion dollars to restore our National Forests and make them more resilient to wildfire. Underscoring the importance of outdoor recreation, those restoration efforts will prioritize projects with a recreation component. Forest Service staff will also receive $50 million to protect old growth forests and $100 million to conduct more efficient environmental reviews.

The National Park Service would receive nearly one billion dollars to improve climate resilience across the park system. This would include $500 million to hire new park staff scientists, preservationists, and other specialists. NPS and BLM will also see $250 million for conservation and habitat restoration projects.

These and other costs included in the IRA would be paid for through revenue generated by closing a number of tax loopholes, including a new corporate minimum tax on the largest, most profitable corporations.

The Mountaineers believes that we still have a long way to go to give federal land managers the funding they need to manage public lands and the recreation opportunities they provide sustainably. However, these investments are an immediate way for us to help address the chronic lack of funding these agencies experience.

Oil and Gas Leasing on Federal Public Lands

Like many bills that pass Congress, this package is a compromise. The reality is the IRA is a mixed bag for oil and gas leasing. On the positive side, the bill increases royalty rates and fees for oil and gas leases to ensure taxpayers are getting a fair return on these extractive activities on our public lands.

Unfortunately, there are some problematic oil and gas provisions in the bill as well. The IRA will tie future wind and solar energy development to oil and gas leasing. A specific provision requires that the Department of the Interior hold onshore oil & gas lease sales every quarter, and offer two million acres or 50% of the acreage nominated by the industry for leasing annually. While we regret these problematic fossil fuel provisions, overall, we still believe the IRA to be crucial to tackling climate change.

We were dismayed to see that the bill dropped previous language to protect critical landscapes in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil and gas leasing, by repealing the ANWR oil and gas program. Protecting the Arctic has been a longstanding focus of Braided River, the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books.

If the package passes, The Mountaineers and our Outdoor Alliance partners will continue to advocate for public lands during the law’s implementation by the administration.

TAKE ACTION NOW

The Inflation Reduction Act isn’t everything we hoped for, but it would be a critical step toward addressing the climate crisis - which is having a significant impact on public lands and recreation.

This package of bills is poised to move quickly through Congress as a part of the budget reconciliation process. We’re hearing a Senate vote is imminent and the House will likely consider the package shortly after. This is where you come in; we need your help getting this climate package and the rest of the IRA over the finish line.

Mountaineers members have a powerful voice with lawmakers, as you can tell personal stories of how climate change is affecting our outdoor adventures and the places we explore and cherish. Several members of the Washington congressional delegation support many of these investments in principle, but many members are still processing what’s in the Inflation Reduction Act and taking a position on the bill.

Your lawmakers need to hear from outdoor enthusiasts like you on why we must pass this historic climate legislation. Use our easy action tool below to urge your members of Congress to support the Inflation Reduction Act and make historic investments in our climate and public lands.

Take Action

Lead image of Mount Shuksan. Photo by Tim Nair.