Friday, May 7, 2010

energy reform is a political impossibility

While my immediate reaction to the oil spill was sadness, my secondary reaction was optimistic. Now Obama would be forced to back-peddle on his proposal to expand offshore drilling.

That was an incomplete assessment.

Senator Graham, chief sponsor of a Senate energy bill, called energy politically impossible for now. The bill tempered opposition by amping up offshore drilling. With drilling off the table, say buh-bye to any compromises. Additionally, Democrats are focusing on immigration, putting energy reform back where it was during the health care debate--on the back burner (well...not that it ever left the back burner).

Obviously I say "thanks, but no thanks" to offshore drilling--but I am willing to accept a diluted energy package over nothing at all. Sadly, even a limp bill is looking unrealistic.

While there is talk about making moves ("Never let a crisis go to waste. It is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before"--Rahm Emanuel), nothing will happen unless Dems get their priorities straight.

Really, the only option at this point is consumer activism. I'm all about Thomas Friedman's re-casting of capitalism as favorable to the environment. Consumer pressure can enact change faster than government action. I'll have to dig up the Lexus and The Olive Tree and blog some examples (e.g. consumer pressure forcing large tuna companies to go "dolphin free" when net restrictions were lifted).

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