Can the Senate Even Pass the BP Spill Bill?


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The Senate notoriously gutted and left for dead its comprehensive climate and clean energy reform bill, even after watering down numerous times. Now, even the tiny remnants of that bill, those measures deemed least offensive -- primarily getting tougher with offshore drilling regulations and some energy efficiency incentives -- may not pass. I have to say, if the Senate can't pass a bill that gets tougher on offshore drilling safety right after the biggest marine oil accident in the history of the world then you can go ahead and consider the governing body entirely useless. Here's the story: Via an editorial from the New York Times:

Over the opposition of most Republicans and the massed lobbying power of the oil industry, the House last week narrowly approved legislation imposing new safeguards on offshore oil drilling. The bill would tighten environmental rules, sharply increase penalties for spills and, in myriad other ways, seek to minimize the risks of oil and gas exploration in America's coastal waters.

Harry Reid, the majority leader, promises to bring a similar bill to the floor, but there is little time remaining before the recess in which to approve it. It would be shameful if the Senate does not. Still fresh in our minds is the Senate's lamentable decision to abandon comprehensive energy and climate legislation that the House had passed the year before with considerable political fortitude. The least it can do is muster a meaningful response to one of the most appalling environmental disasters in American history.

The least it can do indeed. The so-called BP Spill Bill is a straightforward, largely unobjectionable bill that should be embraced by all -- unless you happen to be an oil industry apologist or an obstructionist politician bent on impeding your opponents from achieving a victory no matter how simple the matter at hand.

There's absolutely nothing radical or controversial in the bill. It removes the $75 million liability cap so that oil companies are responsible for the full costs of the destruction they wreak. It creates an agency that oversees offshore drilling, because the previous one was ineffectual and corrupt. It enables Home Star, the 'Cash for Caulkers' measure that gives homeowners tax breaks for making their homes more energy efficient, creating jobs in the process. It gives T. Boone Pickens and co. some cash for natural gas development.

Hardly a radical liberal agenda. If the Senate fails to pass a bill addressing the spill in the wake of the disaster, it will be far beyond shameful -- it will be appalling.

More on the BP Spill Bill
Final Thoughts on a Dead Climate Bill
BP Spill Bill Advances in the Senate

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