The Lead

Conservation advocates fear clean energy initiatives could be lost in debt ceiling talks

By: - May 23, 2023 5:02 pm

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If Congress and the Biden administration fail to reach a deal to raise the national debt ceiling by the June 1 deadline, it could spell danger for federal investments in clean energy that advocates say would combat climate change and create jobs in Pennsylvania. 

As the fight over national debt continues in Washington, Pennsylvania environmental advocates detailed what a national default could do to policy initiatives that they say will fight climate change and create jobs in the commonwealth. 

Specifically, environmental advocates said they were concerned about provisions and initiatives  in the Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at building new solar and wind power facilities as well as electric battery manufacturing plants, which Republican lawmakers have targeted in debt limit negotiations. 

“We can’t have what we want in terms of being able to combat climate change If we don’t have the technology, like solar panels, to start doing those conversions,” Katie Blume, Political and Policy Director, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania said. “We want to see those made with some of the investments from the IRA.”

Blume said Republican attempts to dismantle certain, energy- and climate-related IRA provisions would “knee cap” Pennsylvania’s ability to remain an energy leader as the nation transitions to cleaner sources of energy, despite efforts already underway to obtain federal funding for efforts, such as those to cap orphaned and abandoned wells. 

“As so many people are looking at Pennsylvania’s economy and looking towards the future, this could be — combined — a real boon for Pennsylvania’s overall economy and workers,” Blume said.

Dan Taylor, Appalachian Regional Field Organizer, BlueGreen Alliance, called attempts to dismantle IRA clean energy initiatives, which were passed by Congress last year, “sneaky” and “dangerous.”

“We’re talking about stuff that was passed just last year through the normal legislative process. And now, there’s an attempt to use this debt ceiling process to go after those things that the Republicans weren’t unable to stop then.” Taylor said. “I think it’s a really dangerous precedent.”

With the most recent IPCC report indicating that the world will likely hit the 1.5 degrees celsius threshold by 2027, Blume said the IRA’s provisions to transition to clean energy “critical.”

“This kind of clean energy plan that will help the economy is already doing some work, Blume said. “Taking it away now is just going to make everything worse than it already could be.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.