Democrats backtrack and remove demand to end fossil fuel tax breaks from platform

Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris called to end subsidies for the oil and gas sector during the primaries 

Louise Boyle
New York
Wednesday 19 August 2020 01:30
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Biden says he will eliminate subsidies for fossil fuel companies in February 2020 primary debate

In the midst of the convention, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has dropped from its party platform a demand for no more oil and gas subsidies and tax breaks, Huffington Post reported on Tuesday.

The statement - "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” - originally appeared as an amendment to party demands last month and was approved, the report said.

However, the final draft of the platform was missing the statement, HuffPost reported. The Independent has contacted the DNC for comment.

Mr Biden's climate plan called for historic investment in clean energy which would be paid for, in part, by "ending subsidies for fossil fuels". The plan also called for the US leading the charge in a global ban on fossil fuel subsidies.

"There is simply no excuse for subsidizing fossil fuel, either in the United States or around the world," Mr Biden's climate strategy noted.

Senator Harris' plan also called to "end federal subsidies for fossil fuels and hold Big Oil accountable for its role in the climate crisis,” the Washington Post reported. (Her campaign website is no longer active). In 2017, she co-sponsored the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act.

Climate activists balked at the change with some hoping that the omission had been made in error.

Bill McKibben, environmentalist and founder of climate non-profit 350.org, tweeted: "Hoping this was just a mistake, because ending fossil fuel subsidies is a no-brainer. Pretty sure it was in the 2016 platform (pretty sure I wrote it in, in fact) Seems like something they could and should fix easily."

However, a DNC spokesperson told HuffPost that amendment was “incorrectly included" in the draft and taken out “after the error was discovered".

Although Republicans are typically skewered by environmentalists for their cosiness to the fossil fuel industry, the powerful sector also plays a role in Democratic politics.

Mr Biden has said that he would end new oil and gas permits on public lands but has stopped short of calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique dubbed fracking. The industry employs thousands of people in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

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