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Tribal leaders applaud Inflation Reduction Act investments
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Tribal leaders applaud Inflation Reduction Act investments

Hundreds of millions will go toward climate resilience in Indigenous communities

  •  President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act on Aug. 16, 2022. He was flanked (from L to R) by Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer and Reps. Jim Clyburn, Frank Pallone and Kathy Castor.
    Screenshot via the White House President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act on Aug. 16, 2022. He was flanked (from L to R) by Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer and Reps. Jim Clyburn, Frank Pallone and Kathy Castor.

Tribal Nations have been on the front line against the climate crisis for generations, and now they’ll have some support in their fight through Inflation Reduction Act funding.

President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law this month, which authorizes more than $700 billion in funding and addresses policies related to climate change, energy, taxes and health care costs. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower prescription drug costs, health care costs, and energy costs, according to the White House, and bring forward actions to confront the climate crisis.

“The Inflation Reduction Act takes the most aggressive action on climate and clean energy in American history,” according to the White House.

For tribal nations, the new law will provide funding to help communities plan for and adapt to climate change, mitigate drought, support fisheries and clean energy production.

“The Inflation Reduction Act’s inclusion of funding for tribal climate resilience and energy programs will go a long way to supporting our Tribal Nations who are the front lines fighting against climate-related impacts to our lands, waters, and resources,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation.

The funding will help tribes address climate-related impacts within their communities, including putting money toward  the tribal climate resilience and adaption programs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, climate resilience and adaption activities for the Native Hawaiian community, mitigating drought impacts and supporting tribal fish hatchery operations and maintenance programs.

The act makes more than $272 million in funding available to Native communities for climate resilience and adaptation, including $25 million in targeted climate resilience funding to the Native Hawaiian community; over $12 million to mitigate drought impacts for tribes; and $10 million for tribal fish hatcheries.

The act will fund tribal electrification programs and support tribal energy development. The Tribal Electrification Programs will help tribes and tribal organizations provide electricity to homes without electricity through zero-emission energy systems and transition electrified homes to zero-emission energy systems. 

The act sets aside $150 million for tribal home electrification and makes $75 million available for loans to tribes for energy development.

It will provide the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program and increase loan guarantees for tribal energy development from $2 billion to $20 billion.

Sharp said that the NCAI appreciates that Congress and the Biden-Harris administration recognize the importance of addressing the climate crisis that tribal nations are facing. 

“As we move forward, we call for the continued support of tribal climate change programs, especially those that deal with adaptation, relocation, and subsistence, in the form of non-competitive, non-cost sharing funding, to uphold and honor the promises made to Indian Country,” Sharp said.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attended the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act  on Sept. 13. He commends how the Biden administration is  delivering millions in funding to tribes through the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and now the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The Inflation Reduction Act will help our people with drought mitigation, clean energy initiatives, lower prescription costs, and much more,” Nez said in a statement. “We are making progress and moving forward with infrastructure development, cleaner energy development, and other areas that are critical to building our Nation and to bring more of our people home.”

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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