6 Energy Policy Highlights from the Democratic Party Platform

Democrats reaffirm commitment to clean and renewable energy in the party platform.


While curling up with a political party platform and digging into energy policy might sound like a good time to the more wonky among us, we're guessing most would probably prefer the Cliffs Notes version to the actual 40-page document released by the Democratic Party at its national convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week. (For comparison, the 2012 GOP platform is 62 pages deep and the Democrats' 2008 version came in at a full 59 pages.)

So, here's a quick look at highlights of the Democratic Party's platform on the future of energy:

Energy independence. Well, that's at least one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on: It would be good for America to be free of its dependence on foreign oil and gas. Unfortunately, the two parties quickly diverge when it comes to the means of achieving that goal. Democrats aren't quite as keen as the GOP on opening up more federal lands for oil drilling and natural gas extraction, at least not without carefully weighing potential environmental impacts.

But that doesn't mean Democrats aren't down to develop the nation's fossil fuel resources.

"Building a clean energy future means that new exploration and production needs to be approached safely and responsibly," according to the platform. "Democrats are committed to balancing environmental protection with development."

[Read: Romney Energy Plan Pledges More Oil Drilling on Public Lands, Energy Independence by 2020.]

Clean energy by 2035. As part of an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, generating 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 is one of the party's more ambitious goals.

And according to the Democrats, we're getting closer. Thanks to investments in clean energy technologies, the power the nation derives from clean sources such as wind and solar has doubled. Along with environmental benefits, that's enough to give the government reason to continue incentives such as the wind power production tax credit and other perks for clean energy producers, according to the platform.

"Democrats support making America the world's leader in building a clean energy economy by extending clean energy incentives that support American businesses and American jobs in communities across the country," the platform says, noting that almost 225,000 jobs are supported by the clean energy industry.

Energy efficiency. This is a biggie, especially as it relates to the mission to reduce the country's dependence on oil and ultimately make the U.S. energy independent.

The Obama administration recently finalized an agreement with American carmakers to nearly double fuel efficiency standards, which could save the typical car owner more than $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle while reducing the nation's dependence on oil.

But there's more to be done, according to the platform—better energy efficiency in homes, office buildings, and industrial complexes is essential as well, not only to achieve energy independence but to help protect the environment.

Climate change is for real. Calling it "one of the biggest threats of this generation," the Democratic platform affirms the science behind climate change and cites fuel efficiency standards and greenhouse-gas-limiting regulations as weapons in the fight against "an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making."

[Read: 3 Energy Issues No One's Talking About.]

"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," according to the platform.

The platform also pledges international leadership on the climate change issue, mainly by reducing emissions domestically through "regulation and market solutions."

No tax breaks for Big Oil. Beyond reducing the nation's dependence on oil as an energy source, Democrats don't think the multibillion-dollar oil industry should be getting a break when it comes to taxes.

"Democrats will fight to cut tax subsidies for Big Oil while promoting job growth in the clean energy sector," the platform says.