By Michael Bastasch
The final draft of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform not only backs taxing greenhouse gas emissions, it also backs “using every tool available” to cut emissions even if it means circumventing Congress.
“Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science, and support using every tool available to reduce emissions now,” the draft platform reads, according to excerpts posted by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Democratic officials met in Orlando, Florida Friday to hash out what their party’s platform would be for 2016. Sanders, who is running for president, released a press statement Saturday after the drafting committee approved a final draft of the platform, which his campaign called the “most aggressive plan to combat climate change in the history of the party.”
Sanders worked hard to get his supporters on the drafting committee, and got most of the things he wanted in terms of how Democrats will handle global warming if they win the presidency this fall. The platform includes backing of local hydraulic fracturing bans, greening government operations and subsidizing green energy.
“This is the most aggressive plan to combat climate change in the history of the Democratic Party,” Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ policy director said in a statement. “As a result of this plan natural gas is no longer regarded as a bridge to the future.”
If Democrats approve the final draft, the party will endorse Obama’s strategy for environmental regulation: using his pen and phone to issue executive orders.
Democratic hopes of passing global warming policies through Congress died in 2009 after the Senate shot down cap-and-trade legislation. Since then, Obama has resorted to using the regulatory powers of various agencies, mainly the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to move forward on climate policy.
“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need,” Obama said at a 2014 cabinet meeting. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”
The EPA, for example, has put forward the so-called Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and effectively bans building new coal plants. EPA has also imposed regulations on methane from oil and gas drilling.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has endorsed Obama’s global warming regulatory regime, and has promised to do more to boost green energy production and cut emissions.
What’s not mentioned by Sanders’ campaign, however, is the inclusion of a provision in the party’s platform backing Justice Department investigations into companies “accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change.”
The party’s July 1st draft platform still contains the provision, but the Sanders campaign makes no mention of it in their July 9th release.
“All corporations owe it to their shareholders to fully analyze and disclose the risks they face, including climate risk,” the draft platform reads. “Those who fail to do so should be held accountable.”