The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed in August and making historic investments in climate and other rural priorities, came with tradeoffs; among the most visible are those faced by Tribal Nations.

Tribal Nations were awarded $720 million in direct allocations from the bill for climate resilience and energy funding, and Tribal leaders acknowledge the positive impact this will have. Some of the grant funds directed to Tribal Nations will not require matching funds, a provision critical for equitable access to federal funds, and others acknowledge that the bill provides “much needed help” to Native farmers and ranchers.

Still, many groups caution that the compromises for extractive industries will lead to environmental “sacrifice zones” which will fall disproportionately to Indigenous and Black communities’ waters and lands. Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and vice president of the Quinault Nation, acknowledges that the funding will go a long way with Tribal Nations, even as her own nation has begun to relocate members in response to sea level rise.

Lew Daly at the Roosevelt Institute doubts the IRA will lead to climate justice and calls the $369 billion in climate investments a “small down payment” toward what’s necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.

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