At least a dozen Republican members of Congress have welcomed clean energy investment flowing to their electorates following Joe Biden’s landmark climate bill, even as they launch fresh attempts to dismantle the legislation.
Nancy Mace voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, Joe Biden’s landmark climate law, but hailed Volvo’s boosting of electric vehicle production. Photo of Mace (right) at South Carolina National Guard base by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder / US Air National Guard.
The group of conservative lawmakers, including the House of Representatives members Nancy Mace, Clay Higgins, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have all recently praised the arrival of new renewable energy, battery, or electric vehicle jobs in their districts even after voting against last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was loaded with incentives for clean energy projects.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) environmental group is tracking what it calls the “hypocrisy” of the Republican members who have repeatedly sought to bask in the climate investment unleashed by the IRA despite having voted unanimously against it.
“We are clearly seeing this disconnect House Republicans are feeling between their voters and their fossil fuel donors,” said David Shadburn, senior government affairs advocate at LCV. “Voters want clean energy jobs but the donors in big oil and gas want the repeal of this stuff. These members are stuck between these two things.”
The passage of the IRA, which includes vast tax credits and other support to bolster clean energy such as solar and wind as well as the manufacturing of components such as electric car batteries, was widely castigated by Republicans. Mace, a South Carolina lawmaker, called the bill “absurd” and a “fiasco” but more recently has issued glowing statements about the carmaker Volvo boosting its electric vehicle production and a scheme to further electrified public transit.
Higgins, meanwhile, denounced the IRA as a “monstrosity” but has welcomed the arrival of a $1bn solar manufacturing plant that broke ground in his state of Louisiana in September. Taylor Greene, the far-right extremist from Georgia, has called the climate bill “extremely dangerous” but then lauded the “fantastic” decision of QCells, a solar company, to expand its manufacturing base in her district.
Despite this, and the enthusiasm from GOP members for the boon it provides to clean energy jobs, the Republican leadership of the House has made repeated attempts to dismantle key provisions of the IRA.
These attacks are already ramping up now that the House has a new speaker, in the form of Mike Johnson, a rightwing representative from Louisiana who has received more money in donations from oil and gas interests than any other industry. The first major bill shepherded through the House by Johnson is a measure that would end consumer rebates for energy-efficient appliances and gut other climate measures.
The IRA, America’s first ever significant legislation to combat the climate crisis, is expected to help cut planet-heating emissions from the US by about 40 percent by the end of the decade, which experts say is imperative to avoid disastrous impacts from worsening global heating. This year is widely expected to be the hottest ever recorded and may well be the hottest that humans have ever experienced.
Johnson has previously rejected basic understanding of climate science, suggesting instead, falsely, that the world is heating up due to natural cycles. He was also critical of the US’s involvement in the Paris climate agreement, which Donald Trump scrapped when president, only to be reinstated by Biden.
The White House hopes that voters will turn on Republicans for their continued attempts to exacerbate the climate crisis, even as some younger voters express alarm over Biden’s own record, which includes repeated giveaways to the oil and gas industry.
“Republicans continue to deny the fact that climate action and clean energy are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum and have already emerged as a key issue in the 2024 cycle,” said Alex Wall, senior adviser for clean energy at Climate Power, a climate group.
“Voters will remember who tried to kill the clean energy boom and raise energy costs in order to pad big oil’s massive profits.”
We don’t have a paywall because, as a nonprofit publication, our mission is to inform, educate and inspire action to protect our living world. Which is why we rely on readers like you for support. If you believe in the work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to our Green Journalism Fund.Donate