October 2, 2008

Democrats’ Platform Touts ‘Comprehensive’ Energy Plan

By Snow, Nick

While at their 2008 national convention in Denver, Democrats presented a campaign platform that included an immediate rebate for consumers confronting high gasoline prices and billions of dollars in investments to "establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs." In the New American Energy plank of the platform's first part, "Renewing the American Dream," it said: "We know we can't drill our way to energy independence and so we must summon all of our ingenuity and legendary hard work, and we must invest in research and development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal, as well as technologies to store energy through advanced batteries and clean up our coal plants."

It also called on businesses, government, and the public to make the nation 50% more energy-efficient by 2030 "because we know that the most energy-efficient economy will also gain the competitive edge for new manufacturing and jobs that stay here at home." This would be paid for by dedicating some of the revenue from an economy- wide cap-and-trade program which also would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage billions of dollars in private investments in a new energy economy, it said.

The plank proposed dramatically increasing automotive fuel efficiency requirements and providing assistance to automakers and parts manufacturers to convert their operations and train their employees to build vehicles of the future domestically. It also proposed investing in cellulosic ethanol and other biofuel research and development, tightening oversight of oil market speculators, and providing more funding for low-income heating assistance and home weatherization.

Other provisions

The energy plank would establish a goal for the US to get at least 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025; would create federal-local partnerships to deploy new energy solutions, install a smarter electrical grid, and build more energy-efficient buildings; and would use federal and military purchasing programs to encourage promising new markets and technologies.

"This plan will safeguard our economy, our country and the future of our planet," it said. "This plan will create good jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. With these policies, we will protect our country from the national security threats created by reliance on foreign oil and global insecurity due to climate change. And this is how we'll solve the problem of $4/gal [gasoline]: with a comprehensive plan and investment in clean energy," the plank said.

Officials said the platform was the product of 1,645 meetings attended by 30,000 people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands from July 15 through Aug. 8. Overseas meetings of Democrats were held in Shanghai, Dublin, Bangkok, and elsewhere, they added.

While the platform's energy proposals included many ideas which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IlI.), the Democrats' 2008 presidential nominee, made part of his campaign, it did not contain a windfall profits tax on major oil companies. It also did not include calls to open more of the US Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas leasing, which several groups in the Senate and House proposed as the August congressional recess began. A proposed energy rebate was part of another plank aimed at stimulating the economy and providing consumers immediate relief.

Congressional Republicans immediately dismissed the platform's energy plank as a restatement of earlier Democratic proposals. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Aug. 26 that energy independence was "a signature campaign promise" of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House Democrats in 2006, "yet their chronic negligence in addressing record [gasoline] prices continues to have devastating consequences for working families, small businesses, seniors, and schools."

"Here we are, exactly 600 days from the beginning of this Congress, and only now are Democrat leaders getting around to proposing a so-called 'comprehensive' plan for energy independence. Maybe one of the reasons for this failure of leadership is because, as we have learned in recent days, Speaker Pelosi doesn't even know that natural gas is a fossil fuel or that it will require increased [domestic] exploration to make use of it," added House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.).

Nick Snow

Washington Editor

Copyright PennWell Corporation Sep 1, 2008

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