Natural Security in the GOP Platform

The Republican party platform highlights key resource and climate security-related issues with an emphasis on removing federal restrictions on resource extraction.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr

On Monday, Republican national delegates approved the party’s official party platform as part of its quadrennial national convention this week in Cleveland. The platform includes a six-page section titled “America’s National Resources: Agriculture, Energy, and Environment,” which outlines the party’s thoughts on a range of issues related to resource and natural security.

Below are the key natural security issues promoted in the Republican party platform:

Food

  • Reducing regulations on agricultural production and trade

Water

  • Limiting federal management of water basins
  • Repealing the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule

Energy

  • Promoting an “all of the above” energy strategy
  • Opening up public lands and the outer continental shelf to resource exploitation
  • Speeding up the approval process for new nuclear and hydroelectric facilities
  • Encouraging energy exports to foreign markets, particularly liquefied natural gas
  • Modernizing the national electricity grid and protecting it from an EMP attack

Minerals

  • Expediting the permitting process for mineral extraction and mining on public lands

Climate

  • Reversing EPA restrictions on coal through the Clean Power Plan
  • Opposing any form of carbon tax
  • Halting funding to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Green Climate Fund

Most of the language is pretty similar to what most Republicans in Congress and running for president have been saying for years on these issues, but a few notable things about the platform language:

  • Coal as a “clean” energy source: The 2016 platform goes further than the party’s 2012 platform in its support for coal by referring to it as an “abundant, clean, affordable, reliable” source of energy. The language notably refers to all coal as clean, as opposed to referencing carbon capture and storage or any other less carbon-intensive process of using coal, despite the fact that coal produces 250 times more greenhouse gas emissions than renewable resources over their lifecycle.
  • Wind and solar aren’t included in the “all of the above” energy strategy: The key line from the platform’s section on energy states, “We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.” Noticeably lacking from this section is support for wind and solar power, which the EIA projects will be the two fastest growing sources of energy over the next 25 years. The platform goes on to encourage the development of renewable energy sources with private capital, though it does not clearly differentiate how this approach differs from encouraging the other elements of its energy strategy.
  • Resource competition and EMP attacks: Though most of the resource security discussion is focused on domestic production and consumption of key resources, the platform does mention the geopolitical dimension of resource competition in two places. First, the resources section of the platform mentions overreliance on China for rare earth minerals and vulnerability to energy price volatility caused by OPEC market manipulation as justification for some of its policies. Second, the foreign policy section of the platform name-checks North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia as four countries who may potentially use an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, to disable the U.S. electricity grid - a threat which many experts remain skeptical of.

We’ll have a breakdown of the Democratic platform’s resource and climate-security sections when they approve the final version next week.

Author:

Ken Sofer was a summer fellow with the Resource Security program at New America where he worked on the intersection between climate change, resource competition, and international security.