Fears rise that Inflation Act funds may not reach intended communities
Billions of dollars are available in tax credits and federal grants under the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which could help Louisiana community-led organizations and environmental groups reduce electricity bills, fortify homes against natural disasters, and reduce pollution in underserved areas. Concerns have been raised by these organizations about whether the money will reach the intended recipients, particularly given a history of discrimination and misuse of funds in the state. The White House has sought to address such concerns by releasing technical assistance resources and asking states to designate coordinators to help underserved communities access funds.
Concerns About Distribution of Funds from the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act
The Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could potentially provide billions in tax credits and federal grants for community organizations in Louisiana, aiding in reducing electricity costs, reinforcing homes against natural disasters, and diminish pollution in underserved communities.
However, fears persist about the effective allocation of these funds. Environmental justice advocates and community organizers express concern about potential misuse or misdirection of these funds from their intended recipients. Andreanecia Morris, president of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, suggests state policymakers may implement parameters to limit distribution.
As evidence, Morris and others cite previous instances such as the Road Home Program where nearly $800 million in federal dollars were unused. Ashley Shelton, CEO of Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, emphasizes the need to hold those receiving these funds accountable.
According to a recent report by the Indigenous Environmental Network, of the roughly $60 billion in available grants and loans, only $16 billion may reach its target. Challenges include lack of resources for small community groups to pursue these grants and loans, which are spread over numerous separate programs.
The White House has acknowledged these concerns and released technical assistance resources to ensure money reaches its targets. It has also requested states to appoint coordinators to aid underserved communities in accessing IRA funds.
In response, local groups in Louisiana, such as the Power Coalition, are actively advocating for equitable distribution of these funds. Patrick Courreges, spokesperson for Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources, confirms the state is yet to determine how funds will be allocated.
There is an urgency to get the funds to community groups before they are potentially redirected, as Congressional Republicans have indicated they want to defund some initiatives in the IRA. The recent election of Jeff Landry as Louisiana’s governor has also raised concerns.
There are precedents for this, as governors in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and South Dakota have already rejected their IRA allotments. Jackson Voss, climate policy coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Energy, voices concern about potential negative consequences if these funds are declined.
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