Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill to be Transformed Into "BP Spill Bill"


Photo via Reuters

The Kerry-Lieberman clean energy and jobs bill was handicapped from the day it was introduced -- co-drafter Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had inexplicably jumped ship, and expanded offshore drilling allowances were included in the bill, despite the ongoing BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf. Throw in the growing distaste for the idea of climate change itself in the US, and you have yourself a bill that's in one hell of a pickle. What to do? Rebrand the thing as a bill taking aim specifically at BP, perhaps? That's an idea that's fast gaining traction in Congress, evidently. Mother Jones reports:

Looking to use the Gulf oil spill as an impetus to act on climate and energy legislation, the Senate expects next week to start work on a revamped "BP spill bill"--one that includes both tougher regulation of the industry and the climate and energy provisions outlined last month by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Mike Allen teased this out in this morning's email, noting that the new plan to combine the two issues operates "on the theory the bill will be hard to oppose." A Democratic Senate aide confirmed to Mother Jones that this is the anticipated plan: combine the standing legislation with the energy bill passed last summer and a new spill-specific package.

I think this is generally a good idea, as the need to pivot towards clean energy should be one of the clear messages to emerge out of this tragedy. So, using the platform that Kerry/Lieberman/Graham meticulously hammered out with industry leaders to price carbon and encourage clean energy growth in an unobtrusive, industry-approved manner makes sense: And pairing that with direct action to hold BP legally financially liable for the spill would make for a comprehensive legislative response to the BP Gulf spill.

In other words, a "BP spill bill" may be among the best shots we've got at clean energy and climate legislation. Obama is already starting to indicate in speeches that this is the case.

Obstacles, as always, remain. Though the bill should be hard to oppose (who wants to stand up for BP, besides Rand Paul?), anyway. But a massive, unprecedented oil spill hasn't stopped certain politicians from blocking measures to hold BP accountable for the mess, or Mary Landrieu, a senator from Louisiana, the very state most threatened by the spill, from continuing to shill for the oil industry. Certainly, such a bill could muster popular support, however -- the public prefers clean energy development to drilling by a huge margin, and they are overwhelmingly angry with BP.

Maybe the spill bill will be a one-two punch that addresses BP's negligence and sets us on that long and winding road to a clean energy economy.

More on the BP Spill Bill
Major Climate Bill Still a Major Possibility this Summer
Did Obama Blow the Chance for Clean Energy Reform?
New York Times Editorial Page Says Use Spill To Pass Climate Bill ...

Tags: Barack Obama | Congress | Global Climate Change | Gulf Oil Spill | Oil Spill | United States