“The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) represents the most significant climate change legislation in history, and I’m thrilled that it’s on its way to President Biden’s desk,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of Trust for Public Land. “As this legislation is signed into law, we now must engage in the hard work to ensure that the resources provided flow to the communities that have been impacted the most by historic injustices and the deadly impacts of the climate crisis.

“This legislation will invest millions of dollars in climate-smart agriculture and natural climate solutions. Parks and open space help to counter the worst effects of climate change, and with funding from the Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program, cities and towns across the country will be able to plant millions of trees to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and cool historically underserved neighborhoods most impacted by climate change.

“The package also includes $700 million for the USDA’s Forest Legacy Program, which conserves private forestland and improves carbon sequestration capacities against an ever-present threat of conversion and loss. Protected forestland maintains traditional land-based economies and supports local businesses while also protecting wildlife, watersheds, outdoor recreation areas, and other public resources. Just as we all depend on America’s forests to capture and store carbon, countless communities rely on them to ensure clean drinking water and sustain local economies.

“I want to especially thank House and Senate Leadership for coming together to make these critical and historic investments. The natural climate solutions and conservation opportunities throughout this bill will make a real difference in the lives of Americans and the future of the world we share.

“Speedy implementation will allow our country to address the unacceptable circumstances facing thousands of communities who are suffering from being ignored, left out and marginalized. We are living with the consequences of our inadequate attention to implementation informed by our common commitment to justice. In America today, zip codes are often a better indicator of public health and lifespan than genetic codes—life expectancies differ by over a decade from one zip code to nearby neighbors. But practical steps supported by this bill can help. In our 100 largest cities, communities of color have access to 43% less park space than majority white communities. We see a similar a picture in low income versus high income communities. These underserved communities are being hit with a double whammy because communities with less green space are often hotter, have worse air quality, and are more susceptible to catastrophic flooding. According to the EPA’s 2021 social vulnerability report, Black people in America are 40% more likely to live in areas projected to have the highest increases in climate-driven deaths. And Black children are 34% more likely to live in areas projected to have the highest increases in climate-driven childhood asthma. That’s why our movement to support climate justice for communities will focus on ensuring that the resources and programs in this bill advance equity, and protect vulnerable people from the climate crisis and support communities that need access to clean and healthy outdoor spaces.”