explain to constituents why they made their decision. Republicans who supported
this legislation argued that it would give farmers certainty in what labeling systems
they had to adhere to, rather than the patchwork of state labeling requirements
currently in place. Those who opposed the bill asserted that it should be a right of
states to determine if and how GMO food ought to be labeled.
Another area of contention is preservation and land use on protected lands. Many
representatives in Congress from such states as Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota,
and Wyoming represent constituencies that value the wilderness and nature within
their states as a place to hike, hunt, and camp. But their states are also home to
companies and industries that lobby for more access to federal lands for oil and gas
exploration, as well as such business activities as ranching and farming.
Over the last several decades, the Republican Party has traditionally been more
in support of exploration over preservation, in support of extraction of energy over
conservation of wildlife habitats, and in support of an evaluative framework that
places greater weight on alleged economic benefits over alleged environmental
harm. The contemporary Republican Party seems poised to continue this stance
into the future.
Democrat Positions 2016
The Democratic Party Platform of 2016 devotes less space to environmental issues
than does the platform offered by Republicans. In contrast to the Republican plat-
form’s heavy focus on the current Democratic administration, the Democratic plat-
form contains only one reference to Republican policy on environmental issues: a
criticism of GOP perspectives on global warming.
Excerpts from the Democratic platform convey many of the same messages seen
in contemporary congressional communications to their constituents on green
energy technologies and sustainability. One of the lines in the platform touts the
expansion of alternative energy technologies over the previous eight years: “We’ve
increased our use of solar energy twentyfold since President Obama took office,
and tripled our electricity produced by wind power” (Democratic Party Platforms
2016). These ends were accomplished by extending clean energy tax credits to
wind and solar projects. In order to attempt to more fully tilt the balance away
from fossil fuels to alternative, green energies, Democrats also routinely offer initia-
tives to repeal tax subsidies for large oil companies.
Another part of the platform hails President Obama’s and the EPA’s efforts to
“regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants” with the goal of
reducing pollution associated with coal usage. Democrats dedicate relatively more
communications to the issues of pollution and emissions than Republicans do, and
this difference is also apparent in the party platforms. In addition to regulation of
traditional fuels, since 2009 the Department of Energy under President Obama
issued 40 new or updated efficiency standards on a variety of products and elec-
tricity services to reduce the environmental footprints of many forms of energy.