Satellite image: GeoEyeThe political fallout from the BP oil leak is proving just as difficult to measure as the ecological and economic damage. But three political bloggers who’ve been paying attention to the fight for clean-energy legislation say the odds of a bill passing the Senate are lower than ever.
Bradford Plumer asks “Could The Oil Spill Make An Energy Bill Less Likely?” and essentially answers with a “yes.” In the old order of things, offshore drilling was the giveaway to Senate Republicans that would get enough of them to support a comprehensive climate/energy bill. Plumer explains:
True, new drilling might upset the liberal Dems, the thinking went, but surely they’d yield if that was the price that needed to be paid for a cap on carbon emissions and clean-energy investments.
Not going to work anymore. Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), and Bill Nelson (Fla.) say any bill that includes new offshore drilling is dead on arrival. A bill without their support isn’t going anywhere.
Ezra Klein notes that losing the offshore drilling “carrot” for Republicans is probably a fatal blow for a bill this year:
So that deal just got harder, and the list of excuses lawmakers could make to sink the bill got longer.
And this comes on the heels of last week’s spat between Lindsey Graham and Harry Reid over whether the Senate could do both immigration and climate change. So I’d say chances for an energy bill are looking pretty grim, unless the president decides to incorporate the spill into a broader campaign to reduce our fossil fuel dependence. [Emphasis mine.]
We’re still looking for that campaign, Mr. President.
Matt Yglesias points out that Obama isn’t the one holding things up:
I think in some ways the larger issue here is the continued loyalty to Big Oil of Gulf Coast politicians like Mary Landrieu who’s trying to leverage this disaster into bolstering support for more drilling. The point of the Obama administration going soft on drilling in the first place was that the iron math of the Senate makes it impossible to do anything without the support of the Landrieus (“Landrieux”?) of the world. And if the politicians’ whose states are going to be devastated by this are responding by hewing even more tightly to the Big Oil line, then the situation is just hopeless.
More glum talk from Yglesias:
And the prospects will look much worse in 2011 when there will be many, many, many more Republicans in Congress. Everyone knows all this on some level, but I think many full-time environmentalists are a bit hesitant to discuss in public how bad the outlook for policy change really is.
How’s this for a WTF moment: A catastrophic fossil-fuel disaster seems to be protecting Big Oil from comprehensive energy reforms. There’s got to be a way to change this situation.