Democratic and Republican Positions on Environmental Issues. Edward H. Klevans, Professor and Department Head Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering

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1 Democratic and Republican Positions on Environmental Issues Edward H. Klevans, Professor and Department Head Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering

2 Issue: Climate Change Democratic Position The Democratic Platform states that climate change is a national security threat, and: Climate change justifies government investment in clean energy technologies. Climate change necessitates international leadership by the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including those by China, the largest producer, and India.

3 Issue: Climate Change Republican Position The Republican Platform doesn t mention climate change. In response to questions from Scientific American, Romney agreed there is global warming, but claimed there is no scientific consensus on the extent of warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk. He said we should study it but take no actions such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade that would hurt us economically.

4 Issue: Energy Policy Democratic Position The Democratic Platform and Obama s position is to promote an all-of-the-above policy with emphasis on clean energy technologies that don t release CO 2 into the environment. This includes wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear power and clean coal. Obama recognizes the need at this time for oil and natural gas and supports expansion of oil and gas drilling toward a goal of energy independence.

5 Issue: Energy Policy Republican Positions The Republican Platform also uses the term all-ofthe-above energy policy, but bases it on free market energy development with no subsidies except for oil. The Platform and Romney support oil and natural gas exploration and development in the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Romney promotes the use of coal by ending recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on mercury and other emissions, and opposes any legislation or regulations that limit CO 2 emissions.

6 Issue: Energy Policy Democratic Position To be considered clean, coal requires CO 2 capture and underground storage, and adherence to EPA regulations that limit emissions of particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides and mercury. Subsidies and loan guarantees have been used to encourage development and use of clean energy technologies, especially wind and solar. The subsidies are expiring and need to be renewed by Congress. The Democratic Party supports this.

7 Issue: Energy Policy Democratic Positions Obama increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles to be implemented by These standards will reduce oil consumption and emission of greenhouse gases. The US auto industry supports the Obama standards. Obama wants to end tax subsidies to Big Oil. Obama supports regulating disposal of coal ash to minimize environmental damage. The new Keystone XL Pipeline route is currently receiving an environmental review by the EPA. It may still be approved by Obama.

8 Issue: Energy Policy Republican Positions Romney has publically opposed the Obama fuel efficiency standards as too costly for consumers. He said that higher fuel economy standards are disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers. Romney and the Republican Platform support approval of the earlier Keystone XL Pipeline route, and streamlining the permitting process for other pipelines. The Platform position is that regulation of fracking (hydraulic fracturing of underground shale deposits to release natural gas and oil) should be by states, not the Federal government. Current federal standards should be eliminated.

9 Issue: Energy Policy Republican Positions Promotes American energy independence, especially related to oil, by working with Canada and Mexico. Promotes expanding the use of nuclear power by streamlining the licensing of new plants to reduce the length of time for approval and supports a more pro-active approach to managing spent nuclear fuel.

10 Issue: Environmental Regulations Democratic & Republican Positions Obama supports a strong EPA. Romney has been very critical of the EPA, with clean air regulations being a particular target. Romney and the Republican Party want to overturn legislation and regulations developed over the 42 years since the EPA was created in 1970, not just those created by the Obama administration. An example is the proposed rule to limit CO 2 emissions, which has been mandated by the Federal Appeals Court.

11 Issue: Environmental Regulations Democratic & Republican Positions Obama has released a national clean water framework aimed at developing a comprehensive approach to protecting the health of America s waters in partnership with communities. Romney emphasizes modernizing the federal laws and regulations on water to allow more collaboration, flexibility and cost-effective interaction with states and local communities. He does not provide any details of how to do this.

12 Issue: Environmental Regulations Republican & Democratic Positions Romney states that economic growth and technological innovation, not regulation, are the key to environmental protection in the long run. Republicans generally believe that environmental protection should be a state responsibility. Democrats argue that air pollution crosses state boundaries and having different standards in different states isn t workable. Romney believes we must balance economic development and private property rights in the short run with long term conservation goals.

13 Sources used 2012 Republican Platform 2012 Democratic National Platform Obama and Romney Tackle 14 Top Science Questions, Scientific American, September 4, 2012 A Choice, Not an Echo. Special Convention Supplement, National Journal, Summer 2012

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