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Will the Oil Spill Help Secure Cap and Trade?

Democrats look for the silver lining

This article is from the archive of our partner .

It's hard to find an upside to the disastrous oil spill still spreading in the Gulf of Mexico. But Democrats may be looking to push cap and trade legislation, which had previously stalled, off of public outrage against the offshore drilling accident. What are their chances?

  • Finding Something Good From Oil Spill  The Washington Post's Steve Mufson and Michael Shear write, "President Obama tried Wednesday to channel public outrage about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill into support for a climate-change bill, seeking to redefine an issue that threatens to tarnish his presidency. In a speech at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, Obama made one of his strongest pitches for comprehensive climate legislation, arguing that the case for breaking the nation's addiction to fossil fuels has been made clearer by the environmental catastrophe in the gulf."
  • Exploiting Crisis for Bad Policy  The Heritage Foundation's Nicolis Loris fumes, "Similar to Rahm Emanuel’s 'You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste' statement, President Obama urged both Democrats and Republicans to move quickly to pass cap and trade legislation. This is not the solution to America’s energy needs because cap and trade will raise energy prices, kill jobs and contract the economy." He adds, "The president said he is angry and frustrated – as are most Americans. But that frustration should not lead to policies that will shrink America’s economy, destroy jobs and affect America’s energy production for years to come."
  • But Policy Remains Unpopular, Difficult to Secure  The Examiner's John Ryden notes, " It is clear from his speech that the president’s top priority is to pass cap and trade legislation. It is notable that he did not directly address it by that name. Probably because cap and trade is not very popular, often referred to by critics as ‘cap and tax’. He does not have the votes in the senate to pass this legislation as he noted. ... To get his cap and trade bill passed he is trying to add energy development measures to develop off-shore oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. The BP oil spill in the Gulf has made this more difficult as it has stiffened the opposition to any off-shore drilling, leaving the president less incentives to win votes for his cap and trade legislation."
  • Economic Cost Too High  National Review's Stephen Spruiell makes the case. "The state’s independent auditing agency just released a damning study on the cap-and-trade program California plans to implement unilaterally, concluding that the 'net economywide impact' — which includes badly needed revenue for the state’s empty coffers — 'will in all likelihood be negative.' The case of California shows us that our illusions about the economic feasibility of a green-energy utopia are on a fast track to the dust bin."
  • Oil Spill Hurting Obama's Energy Agenda  The New York Times' Peter Baker writes, "Now that engineers have given up trying to plug the leak and have turned their efforts to containing it until a relief well can be finished in August, Mr. Obama faces at least two more months of crisis management that will complicate his hopes of advancing his agenda in other areas. Every day he devotes to a spill that seems beyond his control, and every day it consumes attention in Washington, is another day that he cannot focus as much energy and resources on his own initiatives."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.