POLITICS

Democrats Drop Demand To End Fossil Fuel Subsidies From Party Platform

Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris each ran on axing subsidies, but the party said including that in the final draft of the platform was an "error."
Storm clouds overhead? 
Storm clouds overhead? 

The Democratic National Committee this week quietly dropped language calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks from its party platform, HuffPost has learned. 

On July 27, officials added an amendment to the Manager’s Mark, a ledger of party demands voted on as one omnibus package, stating: Democrats support eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels, and will fight to defend and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.”

The amendment was approved. But the statement ― which reflects pledges presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, each made on the campaign trail ― disappeared from the final draft of the party platform circulated Monday.

In an emailed statement, a DNC spokesperson said the amendment was “incorrectly included in the Manager’s Mark” and taken out “after the error was discovered.” 

Activists accused the DNC of retroactively removing the amendment from the final draft of the platform. 

“This is ridiculous,” Collin Rees, a campaigner with the nonprofit Oil Change U.S., said by phone. “This is a commonsense position held by both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. … The DNC should immediately include it in the platform.” 

Greenpeace ranked the DNC platform a C-plus in a new grade set to be released Wednesday, giving the official party manifesto a lower rating than the B-plus proposals Biden and Harris each ran on in the presidential primary. 

“This platform is a step backwards, and we deserve better,” Charlie Jiang, a campaigner at Greenpeace, said in a statement sent with the nonprofit’s new ranking. 

Democrats remain split on fossil fuels even as scientists say keeping the Earth’s climate from changing beyond recognition depends on rapidly reducing the use of oil, gas and coal over the next decade. The party depicts itself as champions against global warming, drawing contrasts with Republicans who question the very nature of climate science. But party officials have long feared that a hard-line stance against the industry jeopardized both donations and votes in fossil fuel-producing states such as Pennsylvania and Texas. 

The DNC last year battled with activists and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who ran for president on a climate-centered platform, over whether to host a debate focused on global warming. The party leadership ultimately voted against the proposal. 

It’s difficult to know exactly how much the United States spends every year supporting fossil fuel production. Conservative estimates put the total for state and federal incentives at roughly $20 billion per year. An International Monetary Fund study published last year pegged the figure at $649 billion in 2015 alone. Roughly half of all U.S. oil reserves required subsidies to generate a profit, according to a study published in the journal Nature Energy in 2017, and that was before the price of crude plunged far below $50 a barrel.

The Trump administration boosted that support this year as rock-bottom oil prices and plummeting demand amid the coronavirus pandemic battered U.S. producers.