Energy & Environment

The Murkowski resolution: A step backward for American clean energy

In the last 18 months, the United States has taken major steps forward in the transition to a clean energy economy. With historic investments in solar, wind and other innovative renewable energy sources, we are positioned to compete for the clean energy jobs of today and tomorrow, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to cut the pollution that harms our families and the future for our children and grandchildren.

With all those steps forward, now is not the time to take a big step backward, by doubling down on the kinds of energy and environmental policies that keep America addicted to oil -- especially foreign oil. As the President has said, traditional sources of energy have to be part of the mix as we transition to a clean energy economy, but they can't be our only sources.


New energy taxes will kill jobs, increase foreign dependence

The president's call yesterday for billions of dollars in new taxes on American oil and natural gas producers is not new, and is not good energy or economic policy. While many reports characterize this initiative as taxing Big Oil, it is not. Regrettably, this Administration continues to fail to recognize that this enormous tax burden would hit America's small, independent producers especially hard. The combination of increased taxes and halting offshore exploration seems like the worst option for the President to choose at this time. Our policies should encourage responsible, American energy production, not shutting down the industry altogether.


The Big Question: Will the Gulf spill change the energy debate?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.


Today's question:

Will the Gulf Coast oil disaster bolster the political will to pass a comprehensive energy bill?


Vitter calls on Obama to replace deepwater rig shutdown with immediate safety inspections

Dear President Obama,

I am very concerned about the recently announced shutdown of deepwater rigs for a minimum of six months. I urge you to replace this moratorium with immediate rig safety inspections.

Under this alternative, the approximately 33 affected deepwater rigs in the Gulf would receive immediate rigorous safety inspections. They would be shut down if inspections identified safety problems, but not otherwise.


Carp catastrophists come up empty handed

Despite compounding costs and 11,000 fish killed, no evidence of Asian carp breaching existing barriers has been found.  Now it’s time to start looking at the facts.


Sens. Schumer, Wyden urge BP to suspend shareholder dividends in letter to CEO

Dear Mr. Hayward,

We write to you out of concern that you will be announcing a dividend to your shareholders prior to fully covering the cost of the cleanup for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, several media outlets are reporting that you are expected to hold a conference call this week pledging to maintain BP’s dividend.


Disapproval resolution: June 2010 (Sen. Lisa Murkowski)

Transitioning to a cleaner energy future is one of the greatest challenges we face. Many of us in Congress are working on common-sense solutions that both protect the environment and strengthen the economy. We understand that losing sight of that delicate balance would have devastating consequences.


The Big Question: Is probing BP a good move right now?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news of the day. ...

Federal authorities are launching a criminal investigation into the Gulf Coast oil disaster.
Is this the right move?

Background reading here.


We want action on the Gulf oil spill (Rep. Steve Scalise)

The people of South Louisiana are angry. For more than a week now, thick globs of oil have been entering our coastal marshes and threatening to inflict long-term damage to our culture and unique way of life.

President Obama held his first full press conference on this oil spill Thursday. During the conference, the president admitted that mistakes were made with the handling of the oil spill response, and I couldn’t agree more.

For more than two weeks, the president failed to act on a plan submitted by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to provide crucial protection to Louisiana’s fragile marshes. When this plan to build sand barriers was submitted, the oil had not yet reached our marshes. While the president and his administration sat idly by and refused to approve this plan, oil began to inundate our coast and is threatening our fragile ecosystem. This inaction cost us valuable time that should have been spent protecting our marsh.


BP must do more to protect cleanup workers' health (Reps. Frank Pallone and Lois Capps)

In the 38 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and killed 11 workers, nearly 40 million gallons of toxic crude have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil slick now equals the size of South Carolina and has soiled more than 100 miles of Louisiana’s coastline. Hundreds of birds, sea turtles, and dolphins have died, thousands of fishermen have lost their livelihoods, and local economies are devastated. The magnitude of this spill, now the largest ever off of U.S. shores, has spread so far that we’re beginning to notice broader effects on the public’s health.

BP alone doesn’t have the manpower to clean up the mess it created, so fishermen who can no longer fish have been helping with these efforts along side Gulf coast residents and volunteers. They’ve helped set up floating booms and clean up beaches in an effort to protect their way of life and now they are becoming ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health. It’s gotten so bad that last week the Unified Command recalled vessels operating in Breton Sound after crew members reported experiencing dizziness, nausea, headaches and chest pains. Previous oil spills have shown that more serious health problems with clean-up workers may arise over time.

According to press reports BP failed to provide fishermen with any protective equipment. Instead they wore leather boots and regular clothes on the boat to work the spill. When asked what BP told them, one fisherman responded: “They (the BP officials) told us if we ran into oil, it wasn’t supposed to bother us.” Quite frankly, it is an outrage that BP, which made about $16 billion in profits last year, has such a terrible record on safety – for the drilling itself and for the workers trying to clean up the mess.

That’s why we sent a letter to BP’s president and CEO urging him to take the necessary steps that he is apparently not doing already to ensure the health and safety of the workers and volunteers cleaning up this giant mess. We also asked him to take steps to continue surveillance of workers’ health and monitoring of environmental conditions and air quality. BP must use the data collected to inform a public education campaign about associated risks and symptoms of extended exposure to these hazards.

We are considering congressional hearings on this topic as well and will continue to hold BP accountable for the full spectrum of side effects of this disaster. Responders to BP’s oil spill, including workers, volunteers and local residents should not be choosing to save the life of the Gulf region while putting their own at risk. The Gulf oil spill has already caused enough economic and environmental damage to the Gulf Coast we must do all that we can to protect human health from any potential long-term effects.