Prez pumps up the volume on climate-bill push
Photo: Mike Schmid via FlickrAt last, Obama brings the love: The president’s public display of affection yesterday for Senate climate and energy legislation made sponsor John Kerry (D-Mass.) happy. And Obama’s gambit to frame a vote for the bill as a vote against Evil Big Oil may be the only hope it has — even though the legislation would in fact boost offshore drilling.
So what’s the latest prognosis for the American Power Act, which seemed DOA only a few weeks ago?
Spill bill?: While things are looking up for APA, it may end up morphing into more of a “BP Spill Bill,” according to a report in Politico‘s Morning Energy. All the key climate provisions would still be there, but wrapped inside legislation promoted as a way to tighten the screws on Big Oil. In other words, a bill that’s much harder to grandstand against.
We’re playing your song: The Center for American Progress, an Obama-friendly think tank, is picking up the beat. John Podesta and Daniel Weiss pound the drum for “oil reform,” pushing changes ranging from eliminating the liability cap for oil spills to getting rid of oil-industry tax breaks to setting 40-mpg fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. Their pitch:
The public is hungry for a direct, bold response to the oil disaster — one that clearly reduces American dependence on all oil, regardless of origin. President Barack Obama and Congress should dramatically cut our oil dependence by adopting administrative and legislation measures that increase vehicle efficiency, raise revenue to invest in cleaner alternative fuels and transit, provide additional environmental safeguards for oil and gas production, and enforce real accountability for bad actors.
Thank you for being our friends: Lost in the BP fix-it flurry was the news that APA sponsors Kerry and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have gotten more than 40 corporations to back their plan, including biggies such as Alcoa, General Electric, DuPont, and Shell. The companies signed a joint letter [PDF], released last week by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, lining up behind “comprehensive energy and climate legislation.”
The bill is also getting a boost from a $3 million “bipartisan” TV ad campaign. “The Chinese are kicking our butts in clean-energy investment, the Europeans are taking our new energy jobs, and countries who hate us are getting rich selling us oil, while Washington just bickers,” the ad declares. It comes from the Truman National Security Project and Republicans for Environmental Protection — not exactly out there with the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd, but a voice from the other side of the aisle, nonetheless. Watch the ad:
The Big Murkowski: The first real chance to take the Senate’s pulse since the BP spill will come next week when it considers a resolution introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) — a full-frontal assault on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The word in Washington is that if the resolution gets the 51 votes it needs to pass — and Democrats Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), and Ben Nelson (Neb.) are cosponsors — the American Power Act is in trouble.
For her part, Murkowski used The Hill’s Congress Blog to make her case that she’s just trying to keep the EPA from running amok. Congress, she says, “not unelected bureaucrats,” should “lead the way in addressing climate change.”
Just like it always has.