Axelrod: Oil spill adds urgency to passing energy and climate bill - Reid: “Weaning ourselves off of oil is a hard fact for us to face."
White House senior advisor David Axelrod has not been viewed as a friend to climate legislation by enviros.
Indeed, I’ve been told by multiple sources he is one of the reasons why high-level administration figures so rarely talk about the threat of global warming. Sadly, he is among those who have been duped by bad polling analysis into thinking it is not a winning issue.
So his remarks today are somewhat heartening:
“I would like to think that this will increase the sense of urgency in Congress, because it underscores the value in developing alternative sources of energy,” the senior advisor said during an appearance on MSNBC. “So I hope that it will give added impetus to Congress to come up with and pass a comprehensive plan.”
… “I’m hopeful that they will do that, and we’re going to press very hard,” he said.
The key phrase is “comprehensive plan,” which is I suspect about as close as Axelrod going to come to say energy and climate bill.
If Obama is going to pivot in June from the BP oil disaster to the climate bill, Axelrod would have to sign off on it, so this may be a signal that the inside-the-Beltway buzz is correct. Given how catastrophically the administration failed to develop a narrative on the economy and health care, it is doubly urgent they get one on oil and energy (see Is progressive messaging a “massive botch”? Part 2: Drew Westen on how “The White House has squandered the greatest opportunity to change both the country and the political landscape since Ronald Reagan”).
Majority leader Harry Reid went to the Senate floor today to deliver his take on the connection:
“It’s been nearly five weeks since oil started spewing into the Gulf of Mexico and onto our shores. Millions of gallons, miles of polluted coastline and more than a month later, the consequences of our oil addiction are as clear as the Gulf’s waters once were.
“It’s also become clear that the companies responsible for this spill were poorly prepared for this possibility. There’s no question that they failed to adequately invest in the technology necessary to respond to such a catastrophe.
“Days have turned into weeks while the experts continue to experiment with ways to stop the spill. We still don’t know when the end will come so the clean-up can begin.
“Every year, these companies rake in record profits. Then they turn around and spend that money on trying to find more oil. It’s time they also find safer ways to drill for it and handle it.
“The five top oil companies have made three quarters of a trillion dollars in profits alone over the past decade. But the amount they’ve invested in cleanup technologies is negligible.
“And they’ve invested embarrassingly little in alternative fuels that would make us more secure both at home and abroad. I don’t mind oil companies or any other company making money. But these multibillion-dollar corporations are getting rich at the expense of our national security, our economy and our environment.
“Every day we pay unfriendly regimes to feed our oil addiction is a day we are less safe. Everyone who stands in the way of diversifying our economy makes it harder for businesses to recover, for the unemployed to find work and for our communities to prosper. And every time we see precious water and wildlife coated in crude oil, the threat to our environment is impossible to ignore.
“Weaning ourselves off of oil is a hard fact for us to face. We consume more 20 percent of the world’s oil, but produce less than 3 percent of it. It’s not a change we can make overnight. But if we don’t start, the next disaster could make the current one look like a drop in the bucket.
“I’m tired of waiting for oil companies to get the message. America needs clean alternatives more urgently than ever. In the meantime, those responsible for this spill must foot the bill, and I will do everything I can to make sure they do. Taxpayers will not pick up the tab.
Great message guys. Now I have two words for you, “global warming.”
- Mark Mellman must read on climate messaging: “A strong public consensus has emerged on the reality and severity of global warming, as well as on the need for federal action” — ecoAmerica “could hardly be more wrong”
- Obama’s campaign pollster: “In the aftermath of the oil spill disaster, voters overwhelmingly support a comprehensive clean energy bill…. Voters understand the dangers of our dependence on oil. Now, they’re ready to hold Congress accountable.”
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Joe Romm is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress, which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." In 2009, Rolling Stone put Romm #88 on its list of 100 "people who are reinventing America." Time named him a "Hero of the Environment″ and “The Web’s most influential ...
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