Pro-pollution conservatives warn Obama: Do not use this fossil fuel disaster to push for legislation to end our addiction to fossil fuels!

Or else we’ll be against it as we always have been and always will be

Big Oil’s allies in Congress are terrified that Obama might actually lead the public where it wants to go — off the dirty, unsafe fuels of the 19th century and onto the clean, safe fuels of the 21st century that never run out.

Remember, the pro-pollution conservatives are the same folks who have repeatedly glommed onto the thinnest of excuses to block efforts to end our addiction to oil for decades now — “the economy is bad and the climate bill will hurt the recovery” or “the economy is good and oil prices are already too high” or “global warming is a hoax” or “this bill will do nothing to reduce global warming.”  To paraphrase Groucho Marx, whatever the reason, they are against it.

So we have the top House Republican, John Boehner (R-OH), issuing a statement today:

President Obama Should Not Use Oil Spill Crisis To Push For Job-Killing Nat’l Energy Tax

Obama Administration Seeks Political Advantage On Backs Of Gulf Coasters When Both Parties Should Be Working Together To Address This Crisis

What a comedian that Boehner is — “Both Parties Should Be Working Together.”  He slays me, just like he did when he went on ABC and said “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” He should take his act on the road, or, rather, The Road.

Then we have Mike Pence, Chair of the House Republican Conference, and the American Energy Solutions Group (!) with his press release today:

“The American People Don’t Want This Administration to Exploit the Crisis in the Gulf to Advance Their Disastrous Energy Policies”

In fact, as Joel Benenson, who “was Obama’s lead pollster” during the 2008 campaign,” found in May: “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.”

In June, Benenson did more polling and found two-thirds of the respondents agree that:

BP must pay for the damage they’ve done. But our addiction to oil threatens our security and we need more than a band-aid for that. Senators need to pass real reforms to hold polluters accountable and invest in clean energy.

The public is smart, and they want to start down the path of ending our addiction once and for all.

Conservatives famously use crises to justify things that have nothing whatsoever to do with those crises, as when they insisted that 9/11 meant we had to go to war with a country that didn’t even attack us, while ignoring the underlying causes.  In January, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin commented on this great failing on Meet the Press (transcript here):

MR. GREGORY:  Doris, you’re familiar with writing long and wonderful volumes of history.  And if the war on terror, if chapter one was written by President Bush, now it’s chapter two and beyond; and it’s still very, very complicated, an entire decade really defined by, by terrorist acts at the front end and at the back end, an attempted act at the back end.  So much different than the wars we have fought in our past.

MS. GOODWIN:  True.  But I think there are certain lessons, even though the war on terror is a war about individuals, loose organizations, it’s not countries, there aren’t going to be treaties.  We’ve learned things from other wars that I still think are valid here.  Number one, you have to have allies on your side, and I think that’s what the Obama administration has begun to do.  I mean, after we made the announcement about the Afghan escalation, NATO put in 7,000 troops.  That showed that some work had been done at that point. I also keep thinking that somehow what we really missed in the beginning of this decade on the war on terror, what would have happened right after September 11th if President Bush had called for independent-a Manhattan Project for independence from Middle Eastern oil? What if he’d called for a lot more people to join the Army?  We wouldn’t have had these same soldiers going back three and four times.  What if we’d had a tax increase, as we’ve done in every other war, to fight a war?  We wouldn’t be facing the deficits right now.  So I think even though it’s a different war, the need to mobilize the spirit and the energy of the American people, so it’s not just our soldiers fighting those wars alone over there, is still relevant in history’s terms.

The Manhattan project of course was not a long-term basic R&D effort, which is how some people seem to use the analogy.  It was a staggeringly massive engineering project aimed at rapidly developing “” and, more importantly, deploying “” a very specific military technology, part of an even bigger effort to deploy technology, as I discuss in the conclusion to my book:

This national (and global) re-industrialization effort would be on the scale of what we did during World War II, except it would last far longer. “In nine months, the entire capacity of the prolific automobile industry had been converted to the production of tanks, guns, planes, and bombs,” explains Doris Kearns Goodwin in her 1994 book on the World War II homefront, No Ordinary Time. “The industry that once built 4 million cars a year was now building three fourths of the nation’s aircraft engines, one half of all tanks, and one third of all machine guns.”

The scale of the war effort was astonishing. The physicist Edward Teller tells the story of how Niels Bohr had insisted in 1939 that making a nuclear bomb would take an enormous national effort, one without any precedent. When Bohr came to see the huge Los Alamos facility years later, he said to Teller, “You see, I told you it couldn’t be done without turning the whole country into a factory. You have done just that.” And we did it in under five years.

Now, of course, the government can’t turn the whole country into a factory “” the private sector is crucial to this “enormous national effort, one without any precedent” “” one aimed at deploying low-oil, low-carbon commercial products on a large scale.  And that’s why we need comprehensive energy and climate legislation, so the government can create the rules of the road and the marketplace conditions necessary for the private sector to make the investment.

Without vision, the people will perish.  Conservatives simply have no vision in the crucial energy and environmental arenas except drill, baby, drill.

For Obama to press for comprehensive energy and climate legislation in the aftermath of the BP oil disaster isn’t exploiting a tragedy — it is giving some meaning to the disaster and giving future generations a plausible chance at avoiding their own far worse fossil-fuel disasters.

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7 Responses to Pro-pollution conservatives warn Obama: Do not use this fossil fuel disaster to push for legislation to end our addiction to fossil fuels!

  1. PSU Grad says:

    Doris Kearns Goodwin has forgotten more about history than I’ll ever know, but I’d like to modify her questions just a bit from “What if” to “Why didn’t”.

    “Why didn’t, right after September 11th,President Bush call for independent–a Manhattan Project for independence from Middle Eastern oil?”

    Answer: It would have caused tremendous problems and financial loss to some of his (and Cheney’s) largest contributors. Keep in mind both Bush and Cheney were oil men. It would also have likely required sacrifice by the American people. Can’t have that.

    “Why didn’t he call for a lot more people to join the Army?”

    Answer: It would have required sacrifice by the American people. Can’t have that. Additionally, Bush refused to go to Vietnam, a war he supported. Cheney dodged the draft entirely with five deferments, even though he also supported the war. There guys were not exactly role models for military service.

    “Why didn’t had implement a tax increase, as we’ve done in every other war, to fight a war?”

    Answer: It would have required sacrifice by the American people. Can’t have that. You want to talk about ponies? There’s your pony. What a deal. This country can start two wars, I don’t have to serve, I don’t have to pay any taxes, I don’t have to sacrifice at all. I can just go shopping. I can even pretend the war doesn’t exist. Or, even better, I can slap a magnet on my car, which will make me far more patriotic than THEM. I. I. I. I. I.

    Then we have a president who allegedly wants to bring this country together. And what happens? Socialist, Communist, illegitimate, not born here, YOU LIE, keep your government hands off my Medicare, etc., etc. Divide, divide, divide.

    Boehner/Pence are just playing the game that’s worked so far. And the unpatriotic sheeple, caring about nothing but themselves, follow along.

    Maybe some historian can tell me it’s been worse before. But I’m in my sixth decade and I don’t recall it being this bad. Even Watergate was more civil.

  2. Michael Tucker says:

    The Republicans are worried that President Obama WILL use the Gulf catastrophe as a catalyst to advance a bill that would limit carbon.


    Will you make the political effort? Will you get out there like you did with health care? Or is it vacation time?

  3. Raul says:

    The friday before 9/11 the gainesville sun newspaper reported in that
    small financial column that two exec. vice presidents for mirell lynch
    had just been fired for world wide fraud. I think that the firing had
    something to do with those two having just been convicted of fraud
    in federal court.

  4. Richard Brenne says:

    PSU Grad (#1) – Great comment. I totally agree. Just as we moved from a peacetime to a wartime economy, we now need to move from a fossil fuel to a renewable energy economy, which is unfortunately an infinitely greater challenge and right when we have infinitely less political will to change. Only catastrophic circumstances people can understand will allow such dramatic change, and we need to prepared for their coming.

    A big part of the problem is that while virtually everyone agreed Pearl Harbor had been attacked, now only the smallest percentage of people like Climate Progress readers know that climate change, peak oil and resulting economic collapse are infinitely larger and more complex problems.

    We need to use every teachable moment we can, and the Gulf Oil Gusher (GOG) is the best opportunity we’ve had recently.

    Somehow consciousness and our culture need to change from unrelenting greed and selfishness to their opposites, including the sacrifice you so wisely mention.

    The only place I disagree with you is that you’re applying the lessons of history to today with more wisdom than I’ve seen from Goodwin or any other conventional thinker (as much as I like her), so I’d argue that you know more relevant history than she’s forgotten. Also I’m guessing you hung out with the Kennedys a little less.

  5. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Bipartisanship, requires two sides. The Republicans have shown that they are not interested, it is time to proceed without them.

    Does “if you dis the president, you dis the nation” only apply when the president is a Republican?

  6. FacePalm says:

    Texas Congressman Joe Barton, lapdog of the North Texas cement kiln companies, wins the “Pot, Meet Kettle Award” for the day. In the congressional hearings on the BP Blowout Extravaganza, he stated “…the laws of physics do not respond to 30-second sound bites.” Er, Joey, we’ve been trying to tell you that for years in the climate change context, and you’ve resisted every such attempt. Say, Joe, where’d you learn your physics again?