Undermining the just-released 2021 IPCC Report, which demands real, meaningful, and science-based approaches to thwarting the climate crisis now, the US Senate passed its $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) after months of negotiations between Congress and the White House. The 69-30 vote woefully underfunds program areas (or not funding at all) that would help tackle the climate crisis, while overinvesting in false solutions that perpetuate the crisis.
For Indian Country, the BIF will allocate only $20.5B to the Committee on Indian Affairs to fund Native health programs and facilities, education programs and facilities, housing programs, energy programs, resilience and climate programs, BIA programs and facilities, Native language programs, and a Native Civilian Climate Corps. While these funds for Tribal Nations and communities are long overdue, the bill inadequately addresses the climate crisis by funding false solutions to prolong it. In particular, rolling back funding for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), supporting an Alaska LNG project, making way for false solutions such as carbon capture and nuclear energy — all of which directly and negatively impact Indian Country. The Infrastructure package will now go to the House where additional changes and amendments will be made.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) supports the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ commitment to withhold a “yes” vote on the BIF in the House unless the Senate adopts a robust reconciliation process – which for IEN must reject false solutions to the climate crisis like carbon capture, hydrogen, natural gas and nuclear. Additionally, we demand the federal codification of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for Tribal Nations and communities, which will help ensure the United States becomes aligned with the global understanding that Indigenous knowledge, autonomy, and sovereignty are critical components to address the climate crisis.