June 25, 2010
Bolstered by new opinion polls and driven by a monstrous blowout that is closing Gulf Coast beaches at the height of the travel season, Democratic leaders stirred into action this week on comprehensive climate and energy legislation.
On Wednesday President Obama concluded an all hands cabinet meeting at the White House by publicly declaring again his resolve to develop a “new energy strategy that the American people desperately want.” The next day Democratic Senators caucused, apparently with considerable enthusiasm, to discuss the outlines of a comprehensive proposal to introduce and pass before the August recess.
According to news accounts, Democrats will prepare a bill that includes limits on carbon emissions, as well as new measures to advance clean energy development and more strictly manage deep water drilling. During a news conference Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described the meeting’s outcome this way: “A number of senators said this was the best caucus they’ve ever attended. It was really very, very powerful. It was inspirational, quite frankly.”
With the president and Senate Democrats motivated in a way they haven’t been before, the summer of 2010 is shaping up to be a new season for clean energy and climate action, a season that until the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon was not at all clear would occur at all.
BP Disaster’s Aftermath
The deaths of 11 workers, though, and the helplessness of the government and BP in controlling the blowout has reacquainted Americans with the colossal hazards of a nation so devoted to fossil fuels. The BP Gulf disaster is more evidence of what candidate Obama described on the day he announced his campaign for president as the “tyranny of oil.” It is the latest body blow – the others include 9/11, Katrina, and the Great Recession – that stem from a common source: the nation’s fruitless 40-year struggle to take efficiency seriously and to develop cleaner domestic sources of energy.
That dismaying failure may actually change in the next few months. Democrats are fortified by the results of public opinion polls that find strong support for a new energy and climate policy. One of the most significant was a survey of 1,000 people released this week by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. It found that by a margin of 63 percent to 31 percent, Americans favor comprehensive energy and carbon reduction legislation. The survey’s findings were consistent with a burst of other national poll results in recent weeks, which also found that public support for new offshore exploration has steadily declined since the start of the BP disaster 67 days ago.
The Oil Judge
The same is not true among some federal jurists. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who sits on the Louisiana federal bench, this week struck down the six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling that the Obama administration established late last month. Federal disclosure reports showed Judge Feldman invested heavily in oil industry assets, including holding and recently selling stock in Transocean, the company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon under contract to BP.
The new surge of American public and legislative interest in clean energy and climate action could influence discussion among heads of state at this weekend’s G20 economic summit in Toronto.
And don’t miss going to the beach tomorrow morning for the global Hands Across The Sand, to gather with neighbors, join hands for 15 minutes starting at noon, and “form lines in the sand against oil drilling in our coastal waters.”
Until next week, take care, Keith Schneider