ThinkFast: June 21, 2010

Rahm Emanuel talks to President Obama

President Obama will likely discuss “a climate change component” to energy legislation “that caps carbon emissions only from electric utilities” when he meets with a bipartisan group of senators this week. “The idea of a ‘utilities only’ [approach] will also be welcomed,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal, emphasizing that “a wide range of ideas will be discussed.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) released an internal BP document Sunday revealing BP’s “worst-case scenario” for an oil leak is “as high as 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons of oil per day.” While BP originally told Congress the worst-case scenario was 60,000 barrels, the new figure is “the highest yet to surface” regarding the oil spill.

A New York Times investigation found a “chasm between the oil industry’s assertions about the reliability of its blowout preventers and a more complex reality.” The probe also revealed that the Minerals Management Service “repeatedly declined to act on advice from its own experts” warning of problems with blind shear rams, a part that could have prevented the Deepwater Horizon disaster had it functioned properly.

BP CEO Tony Hayward is planning to travel to Russia to reassure its president, Dmitry Medvedev, that the mega oil company “is not on the brink of collapse after its spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” Russia provides almost one in four of BP’s barrels of oil. For his part, Medvedev will be meeting with Obama in D.C. later this week.

Obama will issue new guidelines to “government agencies to stop hiring lobbyists for boards and commissions.” His Office of Management and Budget is expected to write the proposed agency guidelines within 90 days.

As Congress works to finish financial reform this week, “the banking industry is mounting an 11th-hour end run” to weaken the bill. “Industry lobbyists — and sympathetic members of Congress — are pushing for provisions to undercut a central pillar of the legislation, known as the Volcker Rule.” Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is one of the leading lawmakers pushing for exemptions to the Volcker Rule.

“Israel on Sunday formally announced an eased blockade of Gaza that could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave,” winning the praise of U.S. officials. “We think this is a good move, but obviously implementation is key,” one senior American official told the press.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “left open the possibility of a Republican filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan” yesterday. Asked about a filibuster on Fox News Sunday, McConnell said, “The option’s open under the Senate procedures.” “We haven’t started the hearings yet, [but] I think some of her views are quite troubling,” he added.

Touting Kagan’s nomination, former President Bill Clinton cited his experience in dealing with her when she served on his White House staff. “She was unfailingly meticulous in trying to determine what the law actually is and what the facts actually were,” he said. “She never let whatever feelings she had get in the way of doing that. I think she can be fair.”

And finally: Sarah Palin’s solution for plugging the oil gusher? “Divine intervention.”

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