Party Differences on Energy and Environment: A Side-by-Side Comparison

After I posted a description of the Republican platform, a reader suggested that a side-by-side comparison would be helpful when the Democratic Platform came out.  Here it is, presented as objectively as I could.

Subject Democratic Platform Republican Platform
Regulatory reform Give president power to reorganize agencies.


Congressional approval required for all major rules.
Regulatory reform Review all existing regulations to determine which are outdated. “Current regulations have more than 25 times the net benefits of the previous administration’s regulations.”



Moratorium on all new regulations pending White House review of existing ones. “Reining in the EPA” is critical.
Regulatory reform Rules should be simpler and more flexible, and regulations should be based on sound science and secure American’s freedom of choice.”  Regulatory system must “promote economic growth, innovation, and job creation while also protecting public health and welfare.”


Putting increased weight on “economic development and private property rights,” as compared with health and safety. “The bottom line on regulations is jobs.”
Climate change. Climate change is “one of the biggest threats of this generation – an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making.”  “We affirm the science of climate change.”


Prohibit EPA regulation of greenhouse gases; no cap-and-trade law ever.
Environmental impact statements.   Limit current requirements for environmental impact statements.
Transportation.   Highway funds used only for highways, not transit. Reassess California’s “high-speed train to nowhere.”
Property rights.   Provide just compensation for restrictions on water rights and environmental regulations that destroy property value.
Endangered species.   Legalize sale of products using wildlife illegally killed abroad.
Nuclear power “All of the above approach”


Faster processing of pending applications for new plants; more proactive search for permanent waste disposal.
Fossil fuel production. Expedite approval for new oil and gas lines. But “Democrats are committed to balancing environmental protection with development, and that means preserving sensitive public lands from exploration like ANWR, Gulf of Maine, West Coast, and “other irreplaceable national landscape.” GOP plan would “make their Big Oil donors even richer at the expense of the middle class.”



More drilling offshore, in ANWR, and on federal lands; approve Keystone pipeline; leave regulation of fracking to the states. Encourage coal production (“End the EPA’s war on coal.)
Judicial process.   Limit issuance of environmental injunctions by courts; limit government’s ability to settle environmental lawsuits. Decriminalize intentional violation of federal regulations.
Wetland protection. (see Everglades discussion below) Restrict federal jurisdiction over wetlands and waterways.
Public lands. “We are restoring treasured landscapes like the Great Lakes, the Florida Everglades, and local wilderness areas.”  Open more lands and waters for hunting, fishing, and recreation.


Consider privatizing public lands and Maximize logging on Forest Service lands
Renewable energy Goal of generating 80% of energy from clean energy sources by 2035.  Promote energy efficiency in buildings.


A market-based approach, but no government loans to renewable companies; partnerships with “traditional energy companies” are better.
International “We will continue to implement agreements and build on the progress made during climate talks in Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban.”  All economies have to commit to Reject the Rio Declaration (endorsing sustainable development) and the Law of the Sea Convention as threats to U.S. sovereignty


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more