Amid Phoenix Heat Wave, DNC Committee Hears Anti-Fracking Arguments

As “rare, dangerous, and deadly” heat moves into Arizona this weekend, environmentalists are calling for the Democratic Party to take a firm stance against fossil fuel extraction in its 2016 platform—starting with a national ban on fracking.

The 2016 Democratic Platform Drafting Committee is holding the second in a series of regional hearings this Friday and Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona. This round of testimony is expected to focus on energy and the environment as well as health and safety.

Among those testifying before the committee this week are actor and activist Mark Ruffalo; Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica; Oregon Climate co-director Camila Thorndike; filmmaker and fracktivist Josh Fox; and Environmental Action policy and organizing director Andrew Rogers-Wright.

Environmentalist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, an outspoken anti-fracking activist, is among the progressives chosen by candidate Bernie Sanders to sit on the drafting committee.

The Hill reported Friday that “[f]racking and the environment are set to be one of the most contentious battlegrounds” of the platform debate, noting that “[t]he Democrats’ platform in 2012 recognized climate change, but it also endorsed an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, a phrase that has come to be a coded endorsement of fossil fuel development alongside renewable and carbon-free energy.”

Sanders rival and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s stance on fracking is in line with that platform—she has said the government should regulate fracking but has not called for the ban that Sanders has.

Indeed, The Hill suggests that interactions between McKibben and Clinton appointee Carol Browner, who led the Environmental Protection Agency under Bill Clinton and advised President Barack Obama on environmental issues, provide an idea of how the debate over fossil fuels and climate change might unfold. 

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According to the publication:

Earlier this month, climate activists delivered more than 90,000 petitions to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) declaring that “any serious plan to combat climate change must include a ban on fracking.”

The next meeting will be a platform drafting session in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by a final meeting in Orlando ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July.

Watch the party platform hearing live below:

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