Celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act

CCL Executive Director Madeleine Para's remarks on the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act as Manchin, Schumer, Pelosi, and others look on. Congress; price on carbon; carbon fee and dividend.

Celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act

By Madeleine Para

Last week, CCL celebrated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which contained historic climate measures. The following remarks were given by CCL Executive Director Madeleine Para during the celebratory Zoom call with CCL volunteers.

It is a privilege and a thrill to be here with you today on this momentous day, when the president of the United States has signed into law the biggest climate legislation our country has ever seen. And he signed it because Congress PASSED it — perhaps an even more momentous step!

In this moment, I want to acknowledge a part of CCL that really helps make us who we are: our optimism. We have always loved and often referenced the quote from Alex Steffen: “Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better.”

Well, over the course of this Congress, we have stubbornly insisted that things would get better. We continued to show up, to call and write our lawmakers, to educate our communities, and simply to keep the tiny flame of faith alive in our own hearts that Congress could achieve something big on climate.

And sure enough, they have. From today forward, the status quo on climate has been overturned. Your tireless work, and your steadfast optimism, helped make this happen.

This long, unpredictable process also reinforced the nature of our democracy. Ours is a political system of negotiation, compromise, and working together with people we may not always see eye to eye with. 

We already know that well in CCL, where we have a big tent that includes volunteers who are liberal and conservative, young and old, urban and rural, and from many different racial backgrounds and walks of life. Every day in our chapters and in our communities, CCLers practice building common ground toward the shared goal of a livable world. 

And we saw that type of work in action in Congress these past two years. Lawmakers tried hard to identify common ground they and their constituents shared — common ground that could lead to a climate bill being passed. That process was messy, to say the least. Sometimes the process seemed sure to fail. But in the end, they found that common ground, where progressive members of Congress and a senator from a heavily Republican coal state could agree.

That process of negotiation led to some compromises. Frontline communities are rightfully calling attention to the harms that ongoing fossil fuel production, even in the short term, will cause. And of course, while the bill achieves massive emissions reductions of 40% by 2030, that number is still shy of the 50% goal America has pledged to meet. And of course, our preference is always for bipartisan climate legislation, which didn’t happen this time. So there is still more work to be done.

[You can read CCL’s blog about environmental justice concerns regarding the Inflation Reduction Act here.]

Today is a day of celebration. But tomorrow, and the days that follow, will be days of continued dedication to the policies necessary to build common ground on climate policy, protect vulnerable communities, and preserve a livable world. With this bill’s passage, we’re closer to those goals than ever before. Thank you. 

 If you were unable to attend the live celebration, you can watch the recording below.