Watching Government: Comparing parties' platforms

Sept. 10, 2012
The energy planks in the two major US political parties' 2012 national election platforms offered no surprises.

The energy planks in the two major US political parties' 2012 national election platforms offered no surprises. Both called for an "all-of-the-above" domestic energy policy. But the similarities ended there.

The Democrats said their approach included wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, oil, clean coal, and natural gas. The Republicans said they would "encourage and ensure diversified domestic sources of energy, from research and development, exploration, production, transportation, transmission, and consumption in a way that is economically viable and job-producing, as well as environmentally sound."

Democrats emphasized moving toward a sustainable energy future by developing a clean energy economy with incentives to support US companies and jobs.

"It's not enough to invent clean energy technologies here; we want to make them here and sell them around the world," they said. "We can further cut our reliance on oil with increased energy efficiency in buildings, industry, and homes, and through the promotion of advanced vehicles, fuel economy standards, and the greater use of natural gas in transportation."

Republicans said their energy security policies acknowledge a link to national security both in terms of US dependence on foreign supplies "and because some of the hundreds of billions of dollars we pay for foreign oil ends up in the hands of terrorist groups that wish to harm us."

‘Reasoned approach'

They said it was nonsense to put almost all US coastal waters off-limits to oil and gas activity while urging other nations to explore their coasts. They called for "a reasoned approach" to offshore energy development on the East Coast and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, more of the US Outer Continental Shelf, and more onshore federal land for leasing and development.

Democrats said they were committed to balancing environmental protection with development, "and that means preserving sensitive public lands from exploration, like [ANWR], Pacific West Coast, Gulf of Maine, and other irreplaceable national landscapes."

They said that "Republicans would keep giving billions of taxpayer dollars a year to profitable oil companies . . . Democrats will fight to cut tax subsidies for Big Oil while promoting job growth in the clean energy sector."

Republicans said they would not pick winners and losers, but "let the free market and the public's preferences determine the industry outcomes." They also called for approval of the proposed Keystone XL project as well as other oil and gas pipelines.

Democrats said they support more domestic gas development, but safely and responsibly with safeguards against air and water pollution. Republicans said they respect the states' ability to regulate production from shales "and review the environmental laws that often thwart new energy exploration and production."

About the Author

Nick Snow

NICK SNOW covered oil and gas in Washington for more than 30 years. He worked in several capacities for The Oil Daily and was founding editor of Petroleum Finance Week before joining OGJ as its Washington correspondent in September 2005 and becoming its full-time Washington editor in October 2007. He retired from OGJ in January 2020.