Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still Getting Hotter

Ezra Klein: Why isn't Obama talking about climate change?

I've been thinking a lot about David Roberts's argument that the administration's response to the Deepwater oil spill shows it's not committed to pushing energy legislation this year. "If he was looking for an opportunity to drive home the clean energy message, this was it," Roberts writes. "The Katrina of fossil fuels. Yet all he's done is blandly reaffirm his support for offshore drilling. I haven't heard a word about clean energy alternatives or, God forbid, efficiency, which if pursued seriously could save more oil than offshore rigs could produce, at a net savings rather than a cost, and with the added bonus feature of not occasionally leaking out and destroying entire American ecosystems and industries."

You can see this two ways. The first is that the Deepwater spill is best understood as a national tragedy, and until the crisis phase is over, it would be both political suicide and simply indecent to subsume it into a larger argument about clean energy, oil dependence and climate change.

On the other hand, a five-degree centigrade rise in global temperatures will be an unbelievable global catastrophe. It will dwarf the devastation caused by the spill. And the responsible thing for Obama to do is to explain that: Dependence on fossil fuels ensures oil spills, and it also ensure a warming climate, and we need to understand the Deepwater spill as not just a tragedy, but a predictable outcome, and a harbinger of much worse. That is not politicizing a tragedy. That is being honest about what caused it, and what it means.

That said, this doesn't need to happen on Day 3. The larger argument about the need to wean ourselves off of oil can be made in a week. Allowing time for grieving and emergency response does not mean a call to action can't follow. But if one doesn't follow, then Roberts is right, and it's a sign that the White House doesn't want a discussion over oil dependence this year.

Ezra Klein:

Oil spill makes climate bill less likely: "The oil slick spreading through the Gulf of Mexico will prompt Congress to establish new regulatory, safety and technological requirements that could impede further off-shore oil drilling, the White House's top energy official said Tuesday," writes Jonathan Weisman. "But lawmakers said the catastrophic spill could further dim the White House's hopes for securing legislation aimed at reducing U.S. consumption of oil and other fossil fuels, by making it impossible to forge a compromise that includes expanded undersea drilling." Bright side: Harry Reid is taking the opposite view.
Rayfield (TPM): Chris Matthews To Michael Brown: Your Oil Spill Theories Sound 'Insane' (VIDEO)

Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown went on MSNBC today to defend his claims about the Gulf Coast oil spill, and Chris Matthews let him have it, telling him that Brown's theory that President Obama wanted the oil spill to happen makes him sound "insane."

Brown had appeared on Fox News yesterday accusing Obama of delaying the federal response to the oil spill out of "pure politics," so that he could "pander to the environmentalists" on offshore drillling "and say, 'I'm gonna shut it down because it's too dangerous.'"

In a somewhat rambling appearance on Hardball today, Brown again reiterated this:

We're seeing the Rahm Emanuel rule #1 taking effect, and that is to let no crisis go unused. So this is an opportunity for a President who wants to bankrupt the coal industry, and basically get rid of the oil and gas industry, to shut down offshore drilling.

Matthews called him out on this, asking: "Don't you know that what you're saying, to a third party, not somebody like myself or somebody like yourself listening to you, thinks that you're sounding insane?"

Brown also weirdly implied that the explosion was an act by terrorists who "don't give a rat's butt about ecology," though when asked whether there was any indication of this, he replied, "no, not yet."


Think Progress: Gibbs Chastizes Fox News For Giving A Platform To Michael Brown’s Crazy Oil Spill Conspiracy Theory

Yesterday, Fox News brought on disgraced FEMA director Michael Brown, who oversaw the Bush administration’s bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. “Brownie,” as he was affectionately known to President Bush, became famous for padding his resume to hide his almost nonexistent disaster management experience. Brown told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that the Obama administration wanted the devastating oil spill as an excuse to backtrack on its offshore drilling plan:

BROWN: And so now you’re looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the Louisiana shore, according to certain — NOAA and other places, if the winds are right, it will go up the East Coast.

This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, “I’m going to shut it down because it`s too dangerous.” While Mexico and China and everybody else drills in the Gulf. We’re going to get shut down.

In today’s White House press briefing, Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler tried to ask Robert Gibbs about criticisms that this oil spill is Obama’s “Katrina” (spread by pundits like hate radio host Rush Limbaugh). Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace also raised the criticism with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sunday. However, Gibbs said that he wasn’t going to answer Goler because, in light of the network allowing Brown to air his conspiracy theory without any push back, he wasn’t “entirely sure a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out”:

GOLER: It wasn’t just Fox calling this your Katrina.

GIBBS: No, but Fox had the very special and unique interview with Michael Brown — you opened it and I had to do it — who, for those weren’t let in on the big secret, Mr. Brown — FEMA director Brown under Katrina — intimated on Fox — and it wasn’t, I will editorially say, appear to be pushed back on real hard — that this spill was leaked on purpose in order for us to walk back our environmental and drilling decisions, and that the leak that we did on purpose got out of control and now is too big to contain. So, suffice to say —

GOLER: What is Mr. Brown’s attribution?

GIBBS: I can only wish that the network that you work for asked that prior to interviewing him yesterday.

GOLER: The reporters in here asked that. So I’m asking you —

GIBBS: You should call headquarters, my friend, and ask for somebody who makes the decisions to put people like that — because I’ve got to tell you Wendall, I’m not entirely sure a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out the former FEMA director to make an accusation that the well had been purposefully set off in order to change an offshore drilling decision.

Watch it:

It’s important to note that Brown wasn’t the only one on Fox spreading these theories. On Fox and Friends yesterday, former Bush press secretary and current Fox News contributor asked whether the oil spill was “deliberate.” Fox Business’ Eric Bolling later similarly asked, “The question is did they let this thing leak?”

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