Environmentalists reacted with outrage late Tuesday to news that the Democratic National Committee this week quietly removed from the final party platform an amendment calling for an end to federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, a longstanding demand of climate activists that both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris supported during the primary.
"We are nearing global tipping points on climate, fires and extreme weather are killing people and devastating the economy, and the DNC can't even accept an end to public subsidies for making it worse?"
—Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USAHuffPost's Alexander Kaufman reported Tuesday that "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.'"
But the amendment does not appear in a final version of the Democratic platform that began circulating Monday, according to Kaufman. In a statement to HuffPost, a DNC spokesperson said the amendment was "incorrectly included in the Manager's Mark" and removed from the document "after the error was discovered."
Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, denounced the decision to remove support for eliminating fossil fuel subsidies from the party platform as "immoral, criminal, inexcusable."
"We are nearing global tipping points on climate, fires and extreme weather are killing people and devastating the economy, and the DNC can't even accept an end to public subsidies for making it worse?" Leonard tweeted.
Speaking to HuffPost, Oil Change U.S. campaigner Collin Rees called the DNC's decision "ridiculous."
"This is a commonsense position held by both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," said Rees. "The DNC should immediately include it in the platform."
JFC, this is the *lowest common denominator* of climate change policy. It's one the few things almost everyone, across countries, supports. If you can't get behind THIS ... https://t.co/PDtrlPB3Az
— David Roberts (@drvox) August 18, 2020
The move represents a step back from the Democratic Party's 2016 platform—which included language supporting an end to tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies—at a time when analysts say throwing taxpayer money at the flagging industry makes less sense than ever. In her HEATED newsletter, Emily Atkin noted that "taxpayers currently pay at least $20 billion a year to prop up the fossil fuel industry; though depending on how you calculate it, it could be as high as $649 billion."
As Sludge's Donald Shaw reported Tuesday, the DNC's reversal on fossil fuel subsidies comes after the body in August of 2018 "approved a resolution from Chair Tom Perez that reversed a DNC policy prohibiting it from accepting contributions from fossil fuel PACs."
"Shortly thereafter, donations from fossil fuel executives began flowing into DNC coffers," Shaw noted. "In August 2019, Sludge reported that the DNC had received at least $60,750 from owners and executives of fossil fuel companies including Krumme Oil, Duke Energy, and Southern Petroleum Resources. That figure has almost certainly increased dramatically since."
Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said "it's outrageous that the Dem establishment is caving to big money donors and moving backwards on fossil fuel subsidies."
"We are in a climate emergency," Taylor added, "and it's unimaginable that we would spend (more) billions of taxpayer dollars propping up an industry that is killing us."