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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