Home > Energy Policy, Environment > The Silver Lining to the Growing Oil Slick

The Silver Lining to the Growing Oil Slick

The Silver Lining to the Growing Oil Slick

Over the past few weeks, I have written about the status of the energy and climate bill in the Senate and the recent accident in the Gulf of Mexico with the sinking of an oil rig and the resulting three leaks that are pumping oil into the gulf. These events have given rise to great doubts and great hope when it comes to our nation’s ability to successfully develop legislation that is necessary to ensure a sustainable energy future for our country, a key to our continued success as a world power.

The departure of Senator Graham from the negotiating table (see post on April 28th) lowered supporters hopes as a nail in the coffin of a bi(tri)-partisan agreement for energy and climate legislation in 2010. But, the subsequent accident in the Gulf has given the same group hope that, when faced with the real negative environmental impacts of our current dependence on oil, citizens will step up and demand that we protect our country’s precious ecosystems, wildlife, waterways, and air. They hope, perhaps realistically, that we can pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation before midterm elections get into full swing.

The oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico have already caused irreversible damage and as the oil continues to flow, the number of casualties in the form of ecosystems and wildlife will only increase despite the commendable efforts of the United States Coast Guard. How to best stop these leaks and contain the oil is being debated, with consensus arising only with the statement that there will be significant negative environmental impact to our coastline, no matter what we do.

The silver lining to this disaster is the awareness that it has drawn to the negative impacts of offshore drilling. The oil industry has an impressive record when it comes to safety on their oil rigs and significant spills are rare occurrences. But, drilling for oil is not without risks as clearly seen by this latest incident. It reminds us of what can happen when the oil we depend on to fuel our cars is let loose in our oceans.

What does this mean for energy and climate legislation? While my heart has saddened at the sight of the spreading oil slick in the Gulf, my hope has also grown. I hope that this latest incident will bring Senator Graham back to the table, ideally with his Republican colleagues. I hope that we will come together as a nation to make tough decisions that will ensure the success of our country, without sacrificing our land, water and air.

  1. May 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Unfortunately Melissa,
    I am less optimistic. I think that the spill makes the legislation less likely to pass. We were already working on a very slim margin of likelihood for passage, and part of the calculation to get the required number of votes including using offshore drilling as a “peace offering” to bring some Republican votes on board.
    Now that same issue may drive away Democratic votes that will not want to be seen supporting any offshore drilling.

    Governor Perry has referred to the spill as an “act of God,” and cautioned against “knee-jerk” reactions against offshore drilling. So, I do not think this disaster will result in an end to the “Drill-baby, Drill” mentality.

    I hope that I am wrong.

  2. May 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Signs of hope?

    “Bid to enact energy bill might survive Gulf spill”

    Senator Kerry says US climate bill will be launched “very, very soon” – 06 May 2010 – BusinessGreen.com: http://bit.ly/b4JLj0

    Kerry told reporters that Graham “is standing by the work product and he is standing by the bill.”

  3. May 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm


    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) —

    Resistance to expanded offshore oil drilling intensified in Washington on Wednesday, as BP reportedly increased its worst-case estimate for the leak in the Gulf of Mexico and the spill began to play into fall elections. Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey are vowing to block expanded drilling in an energy bill, even as the White House is holding off on saying whether President Barack Obama will modify his proposal to expand exploring for oil on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


    We will have to wait and see.

  4. May 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hey Chad – did you see this?

    The optimist in me says that Graham is in the game, though he may appear to have backed away… but we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, looks like the Kerry-Lieberman bill will be coming out next week.

  5. May 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I agree with you – there is a definite possibility that this oil spill will not sway voters or congressmen away from their current anti-legislation stance when it comes to energy and climate bills. But, if even a few of those on the margin are swayed toward supporting the Kerry-Lieberman bill, it could be all that we need to pass comprehensive legislation this year.

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