After hearing day in and day out in the news about the (still ongoing) BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico as containment attempts continue to fail, one begins to get mad at the lousy regulators and the Big Oil companies (especially BP) and look for ways to show their outrage. Change2’s Lee Stewart has started to weigh the costs and benefits of boycotting BP (see his thoughts on this here
) and many have turned to protests or are calling up their elected representatives. I myself, in addition to avoiding BP (although, truth be told, I usually walk or take public transport anyway), try to avoid the depressing coverage altogether unless it comes in the form of Daily Show commentator, Jon Stewart (the “most trusted name in fake news” and my personal journalistic hero).
Despite my efforts to avoid BP coverage from mainstream media (and that is quite difficult when I make a career of covering climate change issues) and instead focus on the UNFCCC climate change talks taking place in Bonn this week, I came across an interesting revelation in a piece written by MSN Money commentator Jim Jubak (see here
) …the BP oil spill might actually help the passage of a US climate change policy. When I read this, I sadly made a slight fist pump before recovering my senses since this was, of course, a result of the worst environmental disaster in history and I am an admitted greenie, sometimes tree-hugging, environmentalist.
In spite of the massive attempts by the oil companies (yes, “petroleum” companies – I will admit, I am a Yankee and we have our own words for things) to knock down attempts by the US Congress to pass climate change legislation through significant lobbying and media attack ads that spread skepticism and tax-hike fears, these oil companies, thanks to BP, have become their own worst enemy. Obama has just announced a moratorium on new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling may be delayed off Alaska’s northern coast. Proposals to break up and reform the Federal Minerals Management Service have arisen. And, most significantly, public anger is forcing politicians to consider passing legislation that would punish the oil industry by promoting conservation, solar, nuclear, ethanol, wind, and biofuels.
This public anger may be just the ticket, then, to get the US Congress to finally pass climate legislation (sometimes now referred to as a "new national energy policy") through both Houses before voters start, sadly, kicking out Democrats – the only ones who have voted in favor of the legislation so far (Republicans seem to have taken a united stance against anything and everything Obama this past year) this November in favor of conservative Republicans and Tea Party revolutionaries (often more conservative Republicans). While I wish that the politicians could do this without a horrible disaster as the catalyst, the timing is quite significant – the latest legislation that could finalize the US passage of climate change legislation (the “American Power Act”) is currently under discussion in the Senate, having been introduced on May 12th. Therefore, if there is anything positive that can come from a completely horrible situation, the time is now to act.
Now for a few questions for you: How has the spill impacted you? What are your thoughts on energy policies in the US or Australia and has the spill affected your opinion? Will it change the way that you vote or act?