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Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

A centrist Democratic group says the party has botched its climate and energy strategy for many years — with dire consequences at the ballot box — and should offer a vision that embraces the nation's fracking boom alongside renewables and efficiency.

The big picture: The group, New Democracy, has a new paper today that says President Trump and Republicans have overplayed their hands with "nihilistic" stances on climate and coal, creating a political opening that Democrats can exploit — if they learn from the past.

  • The paper comes ahead of a daylong, multi-issue symposium the group is holding in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
  • New Democracy's director is Will Marshall, who decades ago co-founded the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council that became a platform for party moderates like then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
"Legitimately concerned about climate change, many top Democrats have simply lost a realistic perspective on domestic energy politics, and especially the major economic and environmental value of the shale oil and gas boom."
— Paul Bledsoe, an adviser to the group who worked on climate in the Clinton White House

Why it matters now: The paper is a window into the larger positioning and tensions — which were on display well before the 2016 cycle — that Democrats face in crafting climate positions for the 2018 midterms and beyond.

  • "All Democrats have serious approaches to climate change, but shale gas is key to decarbonization and economic growth in most places, so supporting its critical for Democrats to take purple districts. We must be a big tent party to win," Bledsoe tells Axios.

One level deeper: The paper highlights the shale oil-and-gas boom that took flight during the Obama years, which has helped lower U.S. CO2 emissions as cheap gas has increasingly displaced coal in power markets.

  • Bledsoe argues that many in the party have distanced themselves from the "shale windfall," ceding ground to Republicans and giving the "false impression" that most Democratic lawmakers agree with "keep it in the ground" advocates.
  • It says a mix of technologies — including renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and electric vehicles — and revived regulations can put the country on a path to achieving emissions cuts of 90% by 2050, and breakthroughs in storage and other tech could bring deep decarbonization faster.
  • "Regarding nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and other extremely valuable energy and climate policies, many Democrats have consistently ceded their rhetoric and policy approaches to extremist environmental advocates," the paper states.
  • It argues that Democrats must "stop outsourcing energy messaging to often-elitist environmental advocates who are painfully out of touch with the concerns of average Americans."

What's next: The paper says that, going forward, Democrats should embrace the idea of "American Energy Abundance and Climate Protection," and offers a 20-point political guide for how to talk about the topic.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
11 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.