A look at the policies in the Democrats’ historic climate bill

The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest investment in climate policy in U.S. history, including more than $300 billion to address global warming. It also sets a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030 and creates an electric vehicle tax credit. Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss what the bill offers and what it leaves out.

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  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Now a closer look at the historic legislation that the Senate just passed. The Democrats reform bill is the largest invest spent in climate policy in U.S. history including over $300 billion to address global warming. It also sets a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030, and it creates an electric vehicle tax credit.

    Joining me now to discuss what this will do and what it won't is Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr, climate activist, as well as the president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. Let's jump right into this, Reverend. I know you're in Washington today. You're from Louisiana, though. So you're from and you mainly deal with communities that are feeling the impact of climate change? What is this bill really mean on the ground?

    Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus: Well, on one aspect, this bill is historic. And it's a critical bill for humanity, not a bill for Democrat or Republican but for humanity. This bill will ensure that we can begin to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

    But you're right. I am from Louisiana, and from the Gulf Coast. And there's provisions in this bill that hurt our community that lacking infrastructure, as far as leases in regards to on water and on land. That is the wrong direction and literally will put those communities but to get those next to fossil fuel infrastructure in harm's way, continued to this cycle of sacrifice zones in America.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're talking about the expansion of some drilling, some offshore drilling and also leasing the federal lands. Do you think the bill I know the folks who wrote it were trying to balance things and they added a slew of tax credits to encourage clean energy. Do you think that balances out I hear your concern, but in sum total? Where does this bill stand?

  • Lennox Yearwood:

    Well, let me say this in regards to clean energy, it's exciting for solar and wind is where we have to go. I mean, this is a bill for not only future generations, but for us right now. This truly was our lunch counter moment for the 21st century. We had to pass this bill.

    But with that being said, clearly there are those within the fossil fuel industry who don't want to give up, you know, their reign on power. And they don't want to begin to transition to clean energy. And so they made sure that these things were written into the bill.

    And as I was saying to people, that's problematic, because there are communities who are living next to these facilities, who would now get cancer, asthma, emphysema, and it will cause them to have a horrible life. And we cannot balance that having us pushing for polluters, and not for people.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I know that you feel that in the communities that you're talking to that you represent. I also wonder what other climate impacts that you're concerned about, that you think maybe these tax credits, this expansion, maybe of the electric vehicle tax credit, or this new tax credit? What would that mean, in places maybe seeing rising shores, different temperatures? What are we talking about?

  • Lennox Yearwood:

    The things in this bill, from the Green Bank through the investments in rental justice, even though the block grants are a little funny, we have to work on that long term. But ultimately, this bill is in showing that we can cut emissions down what we must do in this decade, and ultimately, that will help our country and our world.

    That's the thing. I'm from Louisiana. And as we all know, we had — I went through with many of our families and friends, Hurricane Katrina, and then we went through Hurricane Ida, again, last year on the exact same day. That means when you have seen your family and your friends literally drowning to death in the richest country in the world, there's no bill that can help bring them back. But this is a start in the right direction.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    What do you think about that electric vehicle tax credit? That's something a lot of folks think is one of the biggest parts of this bill $7,500 for people, but there were questions about exactly how many cars qualify now, but most Americans will be able to do that. Do you think people you know, will start thinking about electric cars now? Or is that more of a long term cultural shift?

  • Lennox Yearwood:

    Well, you know, I guess I get to put on my Hip Hop Caucus hat. This is kind of the fun part. You know, we in our culture had been really pushing for moving towards Evie vehicles. And these tax credits will allow for folks to really begin to put their hobbies (ph) and their gas catless away.

    And so we can finally begin to move to a place where we can have electric vehicles in our community. And more importantly, we can put charging station that's also part of this bill. That's also a thing we want to make sure there isn't a road or charging anxiety within our community.

    And so that is the important part. And also the fact that people did not put solar on their homes, in their communities. That would be a big deal to help them cutting energy costs. And so, again, those pieces are exciting. This bill is historic. But again, at what costs we cannot begin to pick who will live or die with this climate crisis.

    I'm afraid this bill may be setting a precedent in which we're not looking at which communities either from the Gulf Coast or Appalachia or in Alaska, which communities will survive and which communities will not. And that is a trend as Americans that we cannot put forward.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    So much. That's important there to think about. Thank you so much. Reverend Lennox Yearwood.

  • Lennox Yearwood:

    Thank you.

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