Over several decades, Americans have become increasingly aware of problems affecting the environment, such as pollution and the consumption of nonrenewable resources. As public understanding of human impact on the environment has grown, opinions on how to address these issues have become divided. The Republican and Democratic parties have each taken positions on renewable energy that represent many of the concerns that modern Americans share.
"All of the Above" Energy Policy
In their 2012 campaign platforms, both the Republican and Democratic parties advocated an "all of the above" energy policy. Both parties spoke in favor of ending American use of imported fuels and an increased use of domestic natural resources; however, their implementation plans were different. Democrats favored reducing reliance on oil by exploring natural gas and alternate fuel in addition to coal, promoting the development of new energy technologies and preserving the natural status of public lands. Republicans favored harvesting domestic oil and other resources and allowing public preference to dictate popular energy use.
Both Republicans and Democrats favored the use of fossil fuels, but each party had varying degrees of support. The Democratic platform supported coal and natural gas, but was against the use of oil. The platform stated that Americans should cut their reliance on oil and preserve natural habitat. It also criticized "Big Oil" companies. The Republican platform supported coal, which it described as environmentally responsible and energy efficient. It also supported exploration of natural gas and oil reserves, including drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to the use of fossil fuels, both parties' platforms expressed opinions about the exploration of alternative energy sources. Republicans advocated "cost-effective development of renewable energy," and favored aggressive development of renewable resources. They also stated, however, that taxpayers should not be required to pay for this. As an alternative, the party recommended that traditional energy companies partner with emerging alternative energy industries to create a solution. The Democratic party favored incentivizing the development of alternative fuel sources, increasing energy efficiency standards and promoting vehicles that use alternative fuels. Democrats also promoted selling renewable energy technology abroad.
Democrats and Republicans disagreed regarding how best to regulate energy use to minimize environmental impact. Democrats supported enhanced safeguards to prevent carbon pollution in the air and water. They also advocated reducing emissions by regulating limits and expanding protection for natural areas. Republicans favored conservation through private ownership. The party's platform favored selling federally held lands to private parties, preventing new greenhouse gas regulations and reducing EPA regulations. In addition, the Republican party approved current regulation and use of hydraulic fracturing (popularly known as fracking) as a part of the oil-harvesting process.
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