Sen. Merkley: Get America Off Foreign Oil

By Ryan McNeely

With the prospect of finding 60 votes in the Senate to put a real price on carbon appearing less likely with each passing week, it makes sense for progressives to begin formulating a back-up “energy-only” plan. David Roberts explains that if progressives leave a vacuum, Majority Leader Reid could be left with only the Bingaman or Lugar bills as templates, neither of which “would yield any more renewable energy than business as usual.”

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has stepped into the breach and proposed an aggressive and serious plan to wean Americans off foreign oil entirely by 2030. In the wake of the BP disaster and Republicans’ increasingly nationalistic rhetoric, it’s a shrewd political move. With legislators on both sides of the aisle clamoring to get back to business as usual, Merkley explains that even if we opened up all offshore resources to drilling “it would only be enough to lower the price of gas by 3 cents in 2030.” Instead, we need a comprehensive approach involving increased fuel efficiency, conservation, and alternative energy.

Here’s the key graph:


During his remarks at CAP on Monday outlining his proposal, Merkley also specifically cited the filibuster as the key political problem that is crippling the progressive agenda, for energy independence and beyond. He explained that the normalization of the 60-vote threshold is a recipe for inaction, and ultimately, disaster. “We should not say, ‘we’re not quite ready, we’re a few votes short, we should wait.’ The challenges we face are not waiting.’”