Energy Policy Platform: The Libertarians and Greens

While most of the nation’s attention this election cycle remains fixated on the Democratic and Republican parties, other smaller parties have been able to make some noise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the energy and environmental positions espoused by the Libertarian and Green parties are at nearly polar opposites, but represent unique perspectives that may become of increasing importance should the dominance of the two major parties begin to falter.

As one might expect, the Libertarian Party Platform takes a very laissez-faire approach to energy and environmental policy stating that: “competitive free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Likewise, the Libertarian Party Platform opposes “all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production.” While some may view this as a radical approach to energy policy, the Libertarian stance on energy is by far the most market-driven strategy observable on the political spectrum.

In stark contrast, the Green Party offers a government-centric approach to energy production and environmental protection, advocating for the reduction of “greenhouse gas emissions [by] at least 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050, over 1990 levels.” Other proposals include a new legally-binding international climate treaty, enactment of a comprehensive carbon tax and a complete “phase out [of] all avoidable production and sale of toxic metals, persistent organic pollutants, persistent bio-accumulative toxins, synthetic petrochemicals, and halogenated chemicals.

While membership of both parties remains small and inconsequential at the moment, no one can deny the fact that this election until now has been unprecedented in nature and will have major ramifications across the future political landscape. Interestingly, the Green Party has seen a surge of support among young people according to YouGov polling, with roughly 22 percent of 18 to 24 year olds saying they would vote Green in 2016. Similarly, on the Libertarian front, a recent Gallup Poll found that 27 percent of respondents would characterize themselves as libertarians, the highest number the poll has ever found. If nothing else, these poll numbers suggest a growing interest in alternatives to the Democratic and Republican Parties.


In Depth: Energy

It is difficult – and perhaps even impossible – to overstate the relationship between readily available access to safe, affordable and reliable energy and individual prosperity and economic wellbeing. This is because energy is an input to virtually everything we produce, consume and enjoy in society. Think for a minute…

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