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Gulf spill leads to political posturing

May 05, 2010
As government and industry officials continue to weigh the environmental and economic impacts of BP's offshore accident that continues to leak oil into the Gulf, some lawmakers are, predictably, using the catastrophic event to push for alternative fuels and punishment for the oil and gas industry.

From Politico:

Democrats are still trying to use the leak to rally around energy and climate change legislation. Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the crisis “should spur” action on a climate bill, adding that “alternative energy is what we need to move to as rapidly as we can.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the incident makes the bill “even more relevant, not less so.”

Democrats also didn’t abandon plans to include offshore drilling in such legislation, despite Nelson’s “dead on arrival” comment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the risk involved with offshore drilling “has to be taken into consideration,” but such concerns shouldn’t stop sweeping climate legislation.

“I don’t think this is something that will stop, because the president has always said the bill will be, and the initiative will be, about all elements of domestic production,” Pelosi said Tuesday.

Yet Democrats seemed most passionate about punishing BP and the drilling industry.

Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, along with Nelson, unveiled a bill Tuesday that would raise the liability cap for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion.

Lautenberg referred to the Gulf spill as an “environmental nuclear bomb.” The bill seems to initially have some support on the House side — Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) signaled Tuesday that he supported the provision. The Obama administration also indicated its support in a blog on the White House website.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), former chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said “the energy bill can go forward, and a critical reanalysis of our ability to prevent and to clean up has to go forward before you go deeper in this discussion.”
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