Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): BP spill could help Senate pass energy bill and climate bill

Joe Lieberman (I-CT): Disastrous BP oil volcano would “certainly not lead us to remove” drilling provisions

“I think it should spur it on,” Reid said. “We have to take care of this issue. I am amazed how difficult it seems to be to get people interested in alternative energy.”

Reid cited Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision last week to approve a long-standing permitting application for the Cape Wind project off the Massachusetts coast. “Alternative energy is what we need to do as rapidly as we can,” Reid said. “So I think rather than slow us up, I think it should expedite our doing energy legislation.”

That’s the majority leader quoted in an E&E News PM story (subs. req’d).  He went on to add:

Reid said he agreed with President Obama’s decision to pause on new drilling exploration while Salazar conducts a 30-day review of the Gulf spill. “I think we’re all going to back off from offshore drilling until we get a better handle on how we can do this safely,” he said.

Ah, but then there is Joltin’ Joe from the great state of Connecticut, which is free from worries of offshore drilling thanks to Obama’s recently announced restrictions:

One of the lead sponsors of the Senate climate and energy bill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), told reporters today that the Gulf spill would “certainly not lead us to remove” the drilling provisions from the measure.

“This terrible accident is very rare in drilling,” Lieberman said. “I mean, accidents happen, and you learn from them and you try to make sure they don’t happen again.”

Lieberman said he did not think a decision to leave the oil and gas language in the bill would change the vote count for the climate measure.

“Well I hope not,” he said. “I’m sure it will agitate some people. But the whole idea of the bill is to be less dependent on foreign fuel and to be less dependent on fossil fuel generally. And as part of that, the more we can get oil and gas from inside the United States as we transition to total alternative clean energy economy, the better off we are.”

Lieberman said that the climate bill from him and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would put an additional restriction on offshore drilling by allowing states to veto drilling within 75 miles of their coasts.

The Deepwater Horizon well is in the waters that would be controlled by Louisiana under this restriction. Neighboring states would not have a veto.


Now, in the real world, I can’t imagine any of the (lower 48) states that Obama opened for exploratory drilling (East Coast below Delaware plus Florida) would do so under the current circumstances — including Graham’s home state of South Carolina.  But merely giving the home state a veto when the spill could devastate neighboring states isn’t going to fly.

So I do wonder if the authors are going to stick by their fiction that such a provision is actually crucial to passage, when the reverse is obviously true:

Earlier today, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) threatened to filibuster energy legislation if it allowed for an expansion of offshore oil drilling.

“I will make it short and to the point: The president’s proposal for offshore drilling is dead on arrival,” Nelson said. “If offshore drilling off of the coast of the continental United States is part of it, this legislation is not going anywhere.”

“If I have to do a filibuster, which I had to five years ago … I will do so again,” Nelson added.

Again, if Obama and Senate Democrats can’t get a bill to move off of fossil fuels after this fossil-fuel-driven disaster, then, well, I guess we will all just go on thinking the same things about them we do now.

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11 Responses to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): BP spill could help Senate pass energy bill and climate bill

  1. Fredo says:

    [JR: Fixed. This is what comes of trying to get everything up as quickly as possible. Thanks.]

    “a filibuster by Nelson on the energy and climate bill was not exactly news”

    Are you confusing Mr. Nelson of Florida with Mr. Nelson of Nebraska? Of course everyone would expect Nebraska’s Ben Nelson to filibuster a climate bill, but I hadn’t heard much about Bill Nelson one way or the other (on this or really anything else). Maybe I’m just ignorant but if he was planning to filibuster climate all along it’s news to me.

  2. Daniel Ives says:

    The coal mine accidents are a perfect platform to tell Americans that we need more regulation of coal and we generally need to move our electricty to less dangerous sources (both in terms of climate/environment and human life).

    The oil spill is a perfect platform to discuss that though domestic production is more secure (not from Middle East), it also exposes us to more environmental burdens. Thus, we need to leave oil in general, not just Middle Eastern oil.

    What is Obama waiting for? Is he waiting for a giant natural-gas-related catastrophe before stepping up to the plate on renewable energy?

  3. MarkB says:

    It seems that Graham is what’s dictating Lieberman’s rhetoric. Anyone heard from Kerry? As I understood it, offshore drilling was a big reason (if not the primary one) why the SC Senator was signed on. Take that away from him, and on top of his odd problems with Reid and immigration, he’s probably out for good, in which case 60 votes would seem to be a virtual impossibility.

  4. MarkE says:

    Coal mining disaster. Oil Rig disaster. War. Terrorism. What’s next for fossil fuels? Surely our congressional leaders will blow this opportunity. But I hope that Ried is correct and this prompts climeat discussion again instead of a needless immigration bill that we already determined two years ago that we don’t need.

  5. mike roddy says:

    Lieberman is talking like this little accident in the Gulf is no big deal. Typically, he wormed his way into being a sponsor, and had a lot to do with the nuke well as rhe drilling giveaways.

    surely we can do better, with people (I like Kerry, and have met him) and

  6. Greg says:

    All of the focus in the media is on BP at the moment.

    What about Transocean? When they have an accident, are they also required to pay for some of the clean up?

    If not, does that mean Transocean has an incentive to take more safety shortcuts than they otherwise would, as BP will end up footing the bill for the clean up?

  7. Andy says:

    Perhaps change the bill to allow any state (not just the state whose water the lease is in) to veto drilling within a certain distance from their shore. Figure out what the current distance between the nearest lease and Florida’s shore is and then offer that as the compromise language.

    That would fulfill the Republican’s “state’s rights” ideology and yet result in no new leases for the forseeable future (unless somehow the oil companies can regain the trust of the populace).

  8. max says:

    Why can’t Reid try bringing it up for multiple votes the way he did for financial reform?-finally the Republicans caved and it passed with no filibuster and by general assent-get the Republicans on the record against the clean energy jobs bill.

  9. substanti8 says:

    It’s not a “state’e rights” veto, but it’s the next best thing.  Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Monday that his administration would cancel plans for expanded off-shore drilling.  His criticism was blunt:

    “I see on TV the birds drenched in oil, the fishermen out of work, and the massive oil spill and oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem.  That will not happen here in California, and this is why I am withdrawing my support for the T-Ridge project.”

  10. Chris Dudley says:

    Lieberman is incorrect. We harm our economy by pursuing domestic oil production because we promote high oil prices. We also harm our national security because we boost oil profits that can arm our enemies and the enemies of our allies.

    If we reduce our oil use, we can cut the price of oil and enhance our national security by eliminating oil profits for Iran and others. But, we can’t also expect an increase in domestic oil production with a low price for oil.

  11. John Stanley says:

    This shocking Gulf blowout occurred just as the Cape Wind spproval could set off a new offshore wind industry on the East coast:
    The political opportunities are changing significantly as a result. Why should the US take more outrageous risks with deep offshore drilling, when plug-in hybrid electric cars can be powered by offshore wind (stored as V2G) & big trucks can run on abundant domestic natural gas? A breeze is blowing now for ramping up US offshore wind, a subsea super-grid (as has been lined up for the North Sea) & infrastructure for PHEVs in coastal states. It would partner well with the Pickens gas plan. Moving incrementally on clean energy autonomy would do more for climate than running repeatedly into a fossil-carbon lockdown in the Senate. The constitutional role of the EPA to limit greenhouse gases needs to be protected as much as the coastline.