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California continued to sizzle through the week, but some wereoblivious. The word “energy,” let alone a policy statement on thesubject, was nearly impossible to find at the Democratic NationalConvention in Los Angeles this week. A media aide for the Democratsput in a computerized search under the word “energy” in the party’splatform committee report on the convention Internet web site anddrew blanks Monday, the opening day of the political show.
Later in the week, the same aide was picking out sentences andphrases to try to demonstrate that the topic was not overlooked andde-emphasized. “It’s there,” he assured a reporter.
The platform statement is grouped into three broad categories,”prosperity, progress and peace.” There are a few paragraphs onenvironmental policy, a small part of which touches on energy interms of cleaner more efficient transportation and global warming.The word “energy” still doesn’t creep in much in the text.
“America is blessed with abundant low-cost sources of coal,petroleum and natural gas, but must use them wisely and ensure thatchanges in the energy sector promote a workforce whose skills areexpanded, utilized and rewarded,” a small section in the middle ofthe environmental subsection stated. “Democrats believe that withthe right incentives to encourage the development and deployment ofclean energy technologies, we can make all our energy sourcescleaner, safer and healthier for our children.”
As California officials were declaring the four days of theconvention (Aug. 14-17) as “power watch” days, and issuing Stageone and two alerts because of tight electricity supplies in themidst of statewide hot weather, the Democratic convention speechesand the platform materials seemed unconcerned with electricindustry restructuring, renewable energy incentives andskyrocketing natural gas and gasoline prices this summer, alongwith peak-demand electricity prices on average five to eight timeshigher than last summer.
At the Democrat aide’s suggestion, a pre-convention speech byVice President Al Gore turned out to be the most definitive energystatement from the Democrats, much more so than the party’splatform statement. In his remarks Aug. 12, in Springfield, TN,birthplace of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, Presidentialcandidate Gore proposed that the next 10 years be labeled as the”Environmental Decade,” emphasizing among various air, water andland initiatives the need to “invest more in conservation,renewable energy and fast-growing technologies that combatpollution,” along with leading an international attack on globalwarming.
Candidate Gore went on to endorse helping power plants cutharmful emissions, lowering the nation’s reliance on foreign oiland strengthening the national power grid’s reliability.
In the platform, these ideas are translated into one-liners orphrases, such as the need for all families to have “simple securityof .clean, safe, reliable, affordable electricity for (their)homes.”
Buried in the middle of a paragraph talking about raising globalenvironmental standards, the platform promises that “no newbureaucracies, no new agencies, nor new organizations” will becreated to implement this vision. However, in the Aug. 12 speech,candidate Gore proposed creating a National Energy Security andEnvironmental Trust Fund using part of the federal budget surplus.
Outside of the platform, several speakers at the conventionendorsed various tax credits for alternate fuel vehicles and theuse of renewable energy resources. Everyone talked about an”investment in the environment” (including energy) much as theypromoted investments in education, crime control, universal healthinsurance, and senior prescription drugs.
Electrical interruptions from rolling brownout and blackoutsthat might still occur this summer could change the emphasis, butfor now, energy as a topic doesn’t appear to have a high profilewith the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman candidacy.
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