Democrats pledged to continue efforts to combat climate change and called for
the increased use of natural gas in their 2012 party platform expected to be
approved Sept. 4 by delegates at the Democratic National Convention in
The support for climate change mitigation efforts included in the 70-page document,
which lays out the positions and goals of the Democratic Party, comes as
congressional action on the topic has stalled, and sets up a stark contrast to
their Republican opponents, whose own party platform ignores global warming.
“We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this
generation--an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the
making,” the Democratic platform said. “We affirm the science of climate change,
commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and
know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to
greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and
In addition, the document, which was made public Sept. 3, calls for
international leadership in obtaining an agreement with emerging nations to set
greenhouse gas emissions limits, as well as action to reduce emissions at
“Democrats will continue pursuing efforts to combat climate change at home as
well, because reducing our emissions domestically--through regulation and market
solutions--is necessary to continue being an international leader on this
issue,” the platform said.
In addition, the document calls for the increased use of natural gas,
especially as a transportation fuel, a nod of support that comes as the
Democratic Party remains divided on the role natural gas and hydraulic
fracturing should play in energy development.
“We will continue to advocate for the use of this clean fossil fuel, while
ensuring that public and environmental health and workers' safety are
protected,” the platform said.
Technological advances such as hydraulic fracturing have made recovery of
natural gas from shale formations more feasible and cost-effective, leading to
dramatic increase in gas production as well as a sharp decline in natural gas
However, many environmental groups, a key Democratic constituency, have
remained opposed to natural gas playing an expanded role because of concerns
about the so-called fracking process that involves injecting water, sand, and
chemicals deep underground, and also because of concerns about the greenhouse
gas emissions associated with its use.
“I think there is a host of people who won't particularly like they are
saying natural gas is good,” Frank Maisano, an energy expert with the law firm
Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, said in an interview. “I think there is support
for natural gas from Democrats because there has to be. It will single-handedly
get us closer to energy independence.”
In addition to natural gas, the Democratic platform calls for an
“all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes wind, solar, biofuels,
geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, oil, and clean coal.
While the Republican National Convention 2012 platform,
adopted Aug. 28, also supports the development of natural gas--as well as a
dramatic expansion of domestic fossil fuels--it ignores global warming (167 DEN
The only mention of climate change in the 62-page document uses it as an
example of the Obama administration's “failed national security strategy” and
criticizes the Obama administration for elevating climate change it to a “severe
threat” to national security.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to
heal the planet,” the former Massachusetts governor said during his nomination
acceptance speech Aug. 20. “My promise is to help you and your family.”
While the global warming language in the Democrats' 2012 platform is not as
aggressive as the 2008 version that specifically called for cap-and-trade
legislation, the statement is still “fairly sophisticated,” Manik Roy, vice
president for outreach at the nonpartisan Center for Climate and Energy
Solution, said in an interview.
Although action on climate change remains an “unchecked box” in Congress,
there are still steps the Obama administration could take to address climate
change, such as fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles and the
regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency, Roy
“When I see this [platform] it makes me think they will move forward on these
sorts of initiatives,” Roy said.
Other environmental highlights of the Democratic Party platform includes
increased use of clean energy and energy efficiency; cutting emissions of
mercury, particulate matter, and other pollutants; and restoring the Great
Lakes, the Florida Everglades, and the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our opponents have moved so far to the right as to doubt the science of
climate change, advocate the selling of our federal lands, and threaten to roll
back environmental protections that safeguard public health,” the platform
By Ari Natter
The 2012 Democratic Party platform is available at http://assets.dstatic.org/dnc-platform/2012-National-Platform.pdf.
The 2012 Republican Party platform is available at http://www.gop.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012GOPPlatform.pdf.