Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obama Compromising With Himself on Energy, Again

obama mirrorIn March 2010, President Obama came out for increased oil drilling. Result? He won over exactly no one to his clean energy & climate plan, and had to publicly reverse himself after the Gulf oil disaster.

Obama also promised massive subsidies for nuclear power plants. Result? The senators he was trying to win over, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, walked away from the clean energy & climate bill anyway, and now Obama is faced with the prospect of yet another public reversal after the Japanese nuclear disaster.

Now it looks like President Obama is once again giving up ground on energy with no guarantee of anything in return:
Many facets of his program will be familiar. The president will propose wider use of natural gas, including incentives to use it to fuel fleet vehicles such as city buses. He will back greater production of biofuels and will vow to establish at least four commercial-scale refineries producing cellulosic ethanol or advanced biofuels within the next two years. He also will pledge to establish higher fuel-efficiency standards for heavy trucks, just as he did for passenger vehicles early in his administration.

Obama will also urge oil companies to make greater use of the federal leases both onshore and offshore to prop up domestic oil output. The oil industry and GOP lawmakers have been loudly complaining about delays in the permitting of offshore drilling in recent months. But an irked administration, which had pledged tougher scrutiny of drilling applications after last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, fired back Tuesday with an Interior Department report that revived earlier debates about whether oil companies were exploiting the leases they already have.
There are some good ideas, like increased fuel efficiency for trucks. But they're more than outweighed by the bad ones:
  • We've already been drilling for more oil recently under the failed Bush/Cheney energy policies. And how are gas prices doing?
  • Natural gas may be less polluting than oil at the tailpipe, but comes with major concerns about the safety of a drilling procedure called fracking.
  • And politicians have been touting next-generation biofuels for ... well, for a generation. Now it's 2011 and they're still not ready. Why throw more money down that hole when wind, solar and electric cars are ready now?
For all these giveaways, what exactly does the White House expect to get? Does anyone expect Congress to get off its butt and act on energy when GOP leaders seem happy to cash polluter checks and blame others for our national energy inaction?

In the face of Congressional inaction, President Obama should be defining the choice for voters. They're for buying more polluting oil from countries that hate us - I'm for making America more self-sufficient with home-made clean energy. If voters want the latter, they need to not only give Obama another term, but give him a Congress that will pass real reform.

Instead, we get more White House attempts to negotiate with people who want them to fail, and more "me too" energy policy, always a disaster for Democrats.

Have national Democratic leaders learned nothing from the 2009 & 2010 elections? Seems like they think the lesson is they haven't compromised enough, adopted GOP-lite stances enough, or depressed the progressive base enough. Sounds like a perfect prescription for more of the same on energy, and more of the same in the 2011 & 2012 elections.

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