Putting Policy Prescriptions on a Party Platform

The Democratic Party platform is an approximately 50 page document that purports to outline the agenda for the party to run on in the forthcoming election and the priorities for the elected officials once in office.  You can read the document in its entirety here.

On pages 27 through 30 the party platform deals with environmental issues.  There are some interesting inclusions like the reference to the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay in Alaska, which if it goes forward will likely devastate one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world and be a boondoggle.  What extractive industry project has not turned into a boondoggle lately?

Spanning pages 29 and 30 is the following paragraph on fossil fuel extraction from public lands:

We oppose drilling  in  the  Arctic  and off  the  Atlantic  coast, and believe  we need to reform fossil fuel  leasing  on public  lands.  We will  phase  down extraction  of  fossil  fuels  from  our  public  lands, starting  with  the  most  polluting  sources,  while  making  our public  lands  and waters  engines  of the clean  energy  economy  and creating  jobs across the  country.  Democrats  will  work to expand  the amount  of renewable  energy  production  on federal  lands  and waters,  from  wind  in  Wyoming  to solar  in  Nevada.

Nothing in here is controversial for a left leaning environmentalist, but it really falls short of actually outlining any real policy prescriptions.  I would suggest that Democrats, especially Hillary Clinton, adopt a much more pointed set of policies regarding fossil fuel extraction on public lands.  It would look something like this:

  1. A moratorium, beginning immediately, on any new fossil fuel leasing on public lands. Existing leases can be executed per the legal terms and conditions.
  2. A ban on the expansion of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic coast, and further development in the Gulf of Mexico.
  3. A ban on fossil fuel companies being allowed to “self-bond.” Given the highly volatile nature of the business sector and the fluid nature of corporate responsibility the American people cannot be assured that a company will exist in the future to address environmental clean-up and restoration.
  4. A set of comprehensive rules and regulations to safeguard public health from the rapid expansion of hydraulic fracture drilling to ensure a basic level of protection nationwide.
  5. An extension of tax credits for wind and solar.

I realize that party platforms are essentially “motherhood and apple pie” kind of documents filled with boiler plate text that gets dyed in the wool party technocrats excited, but I feel there is a real opportunity to put meat on these bones.  Plus, I want to see Donald Trump get into a policy debate over self-bonding with Hillary Clinton.  His head might explode when it gets confusing.  It’s true.


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