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Axelrod: Oil spill adds urgency to passing energy and climate bill

By Joe Romm  

"Axelrod: Oil spill adds urgency to passing energy and climate bill"

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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.”

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24 Responses to Axelrod: Oil spill adds urgency to passing energy and climate bill

  1. catman306 says:

    The media cannot cover the Gulf Gusher Catastrophe because BP runs the show. The local police work for BP?

    http://motherjones.com/environment/2010/05/oil-spill-bp-grand-isle-beach

  2. Enrico Diaz says:

    Climate can not be legislated. We have had climate since the beginning of Creation and no one has had luck controlling it. Some of the most stupid people on the planet think climate can be legislated. You can attack people with taxes and claim to influence the climate. Educated people know better.

    [JR: I could have sworn someone sent all those whirlwinds and floods and the like. Guess I was wrong. Seriously, who has been trying to control climate ever??? Weather, maybe, but climate?]

  3. NeilT says:

    Dont’ rely on that bill to get anything done when situations like this exist.

    California is the one of the largest sites of Geothermal energy in the US. Check out the California Energy Commision contact numbers. http://www.energy.ca.gov/commission/phone_list.html

    You are looking for the Energy research and development division, Energy Generation research office, Geothermal Program.

    It’s been like that for 2 years to my knowlege……..

    Given that it has been known for quite some time that HDR Geothermal is the only reliable alternative for baseload electricity generation that is known to us, at least until Fusion finally takes off; I find this situation completely untenable.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    Harry Reid said: “And they’ve invested embarrassingly little in alternative fuels that would make us more secure both at home and abroad.”

    There is a very simple reason for that.

    The best alternative energy sources DON’T USE ANY FUEL.

    The clean energy revolution doesn’t merely mean that the fossil fuel corporations will have to compete with other fuels, like for example corn ethanol, or uranium.

    They will have to compete with FREE ENERGY. And not only that: with an UNLIMITED SUPPLY of free energy. With free energy that is readily available almost everywhere, almost all the time, that will never, ever run out. And that can be harvested with increasingly cheaper, increasingly powerful technologies (think of the evolution of personal computers from 1980 to the present).

    For the fossil fuel corporations, that means one thing: GAME OVER.

  5. Michael Tucker says:

    Why do we expect Oil Companies to invest in alternative fuels? They are oil companies. Do oil companies invest in coal? Are they farmers? Should they be growing corn to convert to ethanol? Is the current oil industry sustainable? NO! But they are the ones who should worry about that. When the oil runs out do you really want to get your biofuel from Exxon? I would rather give my transportation fuel money to a GREEN biofuel company!

    “I’m tired of waiting for oil companies to get the message.”

    Senator Reid, I am really really tired of waiting for congress, and the executive branch, “to get the message!”

    You want investment in renewable, green energy, THEN PASS THE ENERGY BILL!

    Senator Reid and President Obama, what was the name of the legislation that authorized us to go to the moon? We must have had a law that established clear penalties if we failed to land a man on the moon. No? Really? So you are saying it only took PRESIDENTAL LEADERSHIP…remarkable.

    I know the effort you are calling for, Senator Reid, will take more than clear leadership from the President. SO GET TO IT SENATOR REID!

  6. Rockfish says:

    It’s obvious the Dems think “climate change” and “global warming” are politically toxic, so I doubt you’ll hear them use it much. Seems like they are going to try to go the “national security” route. The big problem with that is that domestic fossil fuels play right into it. I suspect that Obama’s big drilling announcement 2 months ago was supposed to kick off their “domestic energy security” narrative, and then things got a little out of hand!

  7. Bill W says:

    Give ‘em hell, Harry!

    Yeah, it would’ve been nice if he’d included something about global warming. But at least included “threat to our environment” (even though he was talking about oil spill effects). As we’ve seen, there’s a perception in DC that too much of the voting public doesn’t believe in global warming, which I would think is why it was left out of the speech.

  8. Hisnamewas says:

    enrico, you’re right. how stupid must we be to think that we could stop our emissions of ghgs. I mean we’ve never done it in the past for the ozone layer (cfc emissions) or dealing with our regional climate such as acid rain(SO2 or NOx emissions). so the best way to deal with this is to plead ignorance and enjoy our suv’s waiting for the rapture to come. god how dumb we are!

  9. SecularAnimist says:

    Enrico Diaz wrote: “You can attack people with taxes and claim to influence the climate. Educated people know better.”

    With all due respect, sir, your comment gives me no reason to believe that you have any idea what educated people know or don’t know.

  10. catman306 says:

    According to wikipedia, sea level in the Gulf of Mexico was about 300 feet below what it is today about 10,000 years ago. As the last ice age melted it raised sea level and stabilized to present level about 6000 years ago. So the marshlands of Louisiana as they appeared 150 years ago took about 6000 years to form.

    So if the marsh grasses die from the oil and rising sea level from melting glaciers and warming oceans, it will take about 6000 years for the marshlands to regenerate to what they were. Of course, sea level has to stabilize before the clock can start. And of course, the oil in the water column must biodegrade before the clock can start because this oil can continuously re-pollute the coastline.

    So rising sea levels will help to push the oil gusher damage along the coast under the waves. Global warming has become part of their business plan.

    Will BP continue support for the cleanup during all that time? Ha! It’s a good thing we are not at war with Britain because there would probably be calls to nuke ‘em back to the stone age.

  11. mike roddy says:

    This is the best speech I’ve heard from Senator Reid in a long time. Thank you. It’s also a good indicator that people are finally waking up.

  12. We already know how to turn urban and rural garbage into gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel.

    All the Federal government has to do is to mandate that a certain percentage of transportation fuel in the US be comprised of these clean renewable fuels— then the transition from carbon dioxide polluting fuels to carbon neutral fuels will have begun with the emergence of a new domestic job producing synfuel economy.

    And since every community in America produces garbage, every community in America would suddenly become a producer of clean carbon neutral gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel– producing jobs in every community in the US.

  13. Leif says:

    Was this man’s first experience with modifying climate? It is still early in the research but the numbers are starting to line up.

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/05/24/2907370.htm

  14. Wit's End says:

    Marcel, are you insane? Burning anything creates emissions. They are not clean sources of energy. They are toxic, filthy, cancer/emphysema/asthma causing greenhouse gases. They also kill vegetation, like, food crops, and trees.

    Clean renewable energy would be solar, wind and geothermal. That is what we need, along with a major scaling back in activities that require energy.

  15. Will Koroluk says:

    An interesting piece on Science Daily recently. Although it’s probably too much to expect governments here in Canada to do much with it. But there is at least one researcher who sees money to be made by governments investing in solar.

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vb2ubh

  16. BobSmith says:

    Good news. I, for one, expect oil companies to invest in alternative fuel – the writings on the wall, oil companies aren’t liked much, and peak oil has already passed. They have all that money, and they are going to want to stay on top, so when they run out of oil, or they feel the pressure from smaller alt. energy companies or government they will be an alt. fuel company. Exxon has already invested in algae biofuel.

  17. Wit's End says:

    BobSmith, exactly. Oil and coal companies are all for biofuel. Biofuel is not clean, or renewable, because so far, it takes more energy to produce it, and it still pollutes with greenhouse gases.

    Oil and coal companies have spent millions suppressing the real clean, renewable energy, and sowing dissent and doubt about the science of climate change, because it is in their financial interest to do so.

    They are corporations, they have no soul, and no grandchildren.

    They will never be invest in clean, renewable energy. Instead, they buy up any start-up competition, and devour it.

  18. Gary says:

    SecularAnimist that was brilliant!!! Uhh…Where in the heck
    is John Holdren?….in a White House closet?

  19. Chris Dudley says:

    Senator Reid has missed something here. Unfriendly regimes are more addicted to oil money than we are to oil. It is to our benefit to pay them for oil so long as we pay them less than it costs them to produce it. They’ll still take the money but they’ll also drain their treasury and have less to spend on centrifuges.

    Gasoline costs about $0.42/gallon in Tehran. Let’s conserve enough so that they have to export at the same price. Cutting about 3 million barrels a day of US oil consumption should force the price of oil below $20/barrel. But, we have to do that before the world oil supply gets too polluted by the sort of intrinsically expensive oil we attempt to produce here in between oil spills.

  20. Chris Dudley says:

    Senator Reid might also mention how corrupting oil is to our government. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/us/25mms.html We can’t expect companies we send out to bribe other governments not to try the same thing here.

  21. automation says:

    Climate change is a global problem, and yet each one of us has the power to make a difference. Even small changes in our daily behaviour can help prevent greenhouse gas emissions without affecting our quality of life. In fact, they can help save us money!

  22. Doug Bostrom says:

    Look carefully at where the finger of blame points and we find it’s directed at a mirror.

    BP et al will stop leading us to ever more absurd and ridiculous extraction methods when we stop buying their products, the ones we demand.

    Axelrod’s fundamental point is quite correct, and as an outcome of that basic fact whining and moaning about how the White House has failed to pull a magic rabbit out of its hat to save the failed risk equation we demanded to be created in the Gulf is extraordinarily childish.

  23. Chris Winter says:

    Enrico Diaz wrote: “We have had climate since the beginning of Creation and no one has had luck controlling it. Some of the most stupid people on the planet think climate can be legislated. You can attack people with taxes and claim to influence the climate. Educated people know better.”

    So you admire education? Well, have I got a book for you! Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum by William F. Ruddiman. You don’t have to read the whole thing: just the introduction to each section will do — eight or nine pages in all.

    Oh, wait… You may not live near a library. Here’s Dr. Ruddiman’s thesis in brief: Starting about 8,000 years ago, humans — by cutting down forests, burning wood, and irrigating fields (esp. rice paddies) — produced slow but steady increases in atmospheric CO2 and methane. Those extra greenhouse gases prevented the start of an ice-age cycle, which would have been the natural outcome.

    Evidence? The evidence is in the book.

  24. Doug Bostrom says:

    Further to Chris Winters’ remark, here’s yet another helpful reminder for those of us who have not yet encountered a useful primer on the topic of climate change:

    Spencer Weart’s Discovery of Global Warming

    The minimum amount of information needed before formulating useful comments on the validity of the problem.