Obama steps up on spill
By Kate Sheppard
Earlier this week I bemoaned that President Obama and his administration were missing out on an opportunity to promote a major overhaul to our energy system. I'm not alone in that belief -- see Tom Friedman and David Roberts for starters. But Obama appears to be finally getting some fire in his belly on the spill and connecting it to an energy agenda.
"Climate change poses a threat to our way of life -- in fact, we’re already beginning to see its profound and costly impact," he said in remarks at a solar company in Fremont, Calif., Wednesday. "The spill in the Gulf, which is just heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources." He pledged to "keep fighting" to pass a climate bill -- and to "try to get it done this year."
He could still stand to put a little more fight in there -- specifically, offering some guidelines to the Senate on the issue. The Senate has been the laggard on this issue, and it needs direct, public pressure from the administration. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) finally put out a draft version of their bill earlier this month, but Democrats are still struggling with crucial issues such as offshore drilling -- not to mention outstanding questions about whether it will make it on the legislative calendar and if it can find any Republican support. On both health care reform and financial regulation, the administration weighed in with clear directives. It hasn't done so with climate and energy, outside of calling for general principles such as a price on carbon. Now would seems like a good time to get a little more hands-on.
Obama also made remarks on the oil spill that offered more reasons for optimism than previous statements on drilling:
We’re not going to transition out of oil next year or 10 years from now. But think about it, part of what’s happening in the Gulf is that oil companies are drilling a mile underwater before they hit ground, and then a mile below that before they hit oil.
With the increased risks, the increased costs, it gives you a sense of where we’re going. We’re not going to be able to sustain this kind of fossil fuel use. This planet can’t sustain it.