May 19, 2023
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of thousands of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands, waters, and democracy. The following is the statement from EOPA on the debt ceiling:
In our history, America has never defaulted on scheduled bills our government has promised to pay. Now, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has threatened to default on America’s debt obligation putting our health and environment, 8 million jobs, military paychecks, businesses and retirement accounts at risk — while possibly triggering a recession. Social security and Medicare recipients would also be dramatically impacted, putting additional lives in jeopardy.
In this debt ceiling discussion, it’s often overlooked that President Biden’s proposed budget included $24 Billion to combat climate change. Now, because of McCarthy, these measures most likely will be cut. These funds were destined to help build communities’ resilience to climate-related disasters, including floods, wildfires, storms, extreme heat and drought. The proposed funding comes after the country experienced a fivefold increase in the annual number of billion-dollar disasters over the past five years.
This year records for extreme weather are projected to be broken again and already have. A report, from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, published on May 17, found that the Arctic is heating much faster than the rest of the world, and that continues to impact global weather systems. Hence there is now a 66 percent likelihood of exceeding the 1.5C threshold in at least one year between 2023 and 2027. The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold is the point in which U.N. scientists have warned could have dire consequences over a sustained time, because weather would become even more extreme and mass migrations and conflicts would follow.
McCarthy claims his hostage taking measure is to apparently cut America’s debt burden. Yet, Biden’s proposed budget was going to end oil and gas industry subsidies. Direct subsidies for fossil fuel production include a diverse set of federal tax credits, capital depreciation allowances, and financial treatments for royalties, passive losses, and the like. Figures vary, but Resources for the Future estimates that the federal government subsidizes fossil fuel extraction at about $4.9 Billion a year. Compared to fossil industry revenues of $200 Billion in 2022 the subsidies are not essential to fossil energy operations, but would help avoid cuts demanded by McCarthy.
What’s even more egregious is McCarthy’s eagerness to demolish the Inflation Reduction Act, (IRA) which has earmarked close to $370 billion for climate change initiatives and became law last fall. The IRA includes critical programs that will help environmental justice communities and major rebates for consumers to transition to clean energy, amongst other measures that will put America on the path to a clean energy economy.
The IRA will cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030. The president’s proposed budget climate funding would have moved forward Biden’s commitment to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. With stricter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental regulations already proposed the U.S. would hit its goal. However, the allies of big polluters in Congress also want to defund agencies that work to protect our air and water, permit infrastructure projects, and advance environmental justice in the extortion exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
There is no illusion that this is a politically motivated manufactured debt ceiling crisis that endangers the lives of Americans because special interests, like the fossil fuel industry, are determined to continue business as normal to protect their bottom line. They apparently aren’t concerned about the health and well-being of Americans, nor are their agents in Congress.
Elected Officials to Protect America stands up for solutions that protect people, not polluters. Any debt ceiling deal that cuts the IRA funding must be rejected by the administration. McCarthy’s fossil fuel friendly policies will harm our communities and unravel the progress the Biden administration has made positioning America as a global leader in the clean energy transition. These are dangerous attacks on the health and well-being of all Americans, as well as the world community for if we don’t cut fossil fuel emissions by the U.N. scientific goal everyone will suffer.
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of thousands of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong democratic environmental leadership. Many of our leaders are veterans who are elected officials.