xvi Preface
One of the major accomplishments heralded within the party was President
Obama’s decision to reject permitting to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline
on the grounds that the economic ends would not justify the environmental havoc
wreaked by the pipeline, and that supporting the pipeline would only divert atten-
tion away from innovating alternate solutions to fossil fuel dependency.
On top of providing more controls for fossil fuels, Congress passed and President
Obama signed a 2016 update to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, known
as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, in order to
better accord the handling, processing, and public information on chemical sub-
stances with scientific standards. This reform specified updated procedures for
evaluating and handling the chemicals used in every setting—from the workplace
to homes—and it renewed standards to safely limit human exposure to harmful
substances. This legislation was a rare case of bipartisan congressional consensus
on an environmental issue during the Obama years.
Democrats use both of the terms climate change and global warming relatively
more often than Republicans in constituent communications. This focus is
made clear in a commitment highlighted as the end of the party platform on the
environment—and specifically on international accords signed in Paris to reduce
the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change: “Democrats will fight
to protect the Paris Agreement to protect our planet for future generations.” This
clear position on the Paris Agreement reinforces the starting point of the Demo-
cratic Party platform: that climate change and clean energy are high-level priorities
for Democrats. Though it is not a focus of the official Democratic Party platform,
the U.S. system of national parks is championed by many Democratic members
of Congress. In contrast to the Republican Party, some members of which have
advocated privatizing parts of national parks or allowing private entities to develop
or use parts of federally protected land, the Democratic Party generally supports
the national parks system as a public good to be enjoyed by all, and it rejects calls
to place units under greater control of private entities. In 2016, Democratic advo-
cates for national parks pushed to add even more land to the system of federally
recognized parks and protected areas, a position that does not enjoy the same level
of support from Republicans. The arguments offered in favor of park expansion
include appeals to a sense of obligation to preserve national parks and other pro-
tected areas as a legacy of the natural beauty of the United States for current and
future generations to enjoy.
Diversity within the Party
The diversity within the Democratic Party on environmental principles and poli-
cies largely comes down to geography. Representatives from the Gulf Coast find
themselves torn between environmental conservationists within the party and con-
stituents who are economically dependent on traditional oil and gas extraction
industries. While Republicans increasingly represent the Gulf Coast states of the
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