Obama on oil dependence

2010-06-14

in Politics, The environment

In a recent speech, Barack Obama finally made the argument that the correct response to the BP oil spill is to lessen American dependence on fossil fuels:

Beyond the risks inherent in drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month – including many in dangerous and unstable regions.

In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardise our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.

Of course, almost every President going back to at least the 1970s has argued that the United States should move in such a direction. Hopefully, this time the message will be backed up by some strong policy actions.

If the Obama administration doesn’t manage to pass a climate bill before the mid-term elections, and if those elections then go badly for the Democrats, the chances for any meaningful climate change policy reform during Obama’s first term may be slim.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan June 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Hopefully, Obama’s inability to punish BP will wake people up to the weakness of the business-led democratic leadership.

R.K. June 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm

He sounds like he is hedging, talking about oil imports. Concern about them can be used to justify domestic drilling, even though it ultinately perpetuates fossil fuel dependence.

XUP June 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

It’s amazing to me that with all the people denouncing BP all over the place that so few of them actually make this connection – that while they’re pointing the finger at BP, they should also be pointing a finger at themselves.

R.K. June 15, 2010 at 10:14 am

The BBC has some interesting information on deep water drilling around the world:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10298342.stm

R.K. June 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

One interesting claim in that article is that relatively little of the world’s oil is deep offshore: 25 billion barrels, compared to 213 in shallow water and 1,120 billion on land.

We really are chasing the dregs. I wonder why – geologically – the large share of the planet’s surface covered by deep ocean has so little oil.

. June 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Obama vows to ‘make BP pay’ for oil spill damage

Barack Obama has vowed to “make BP pay” for the damage caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in his first national address from the Oval Office.

The US president said he would meet company executives later and tell them that they must set up a fund to compensate those affected by the spill.

He described the spill as an assault on the shores and citizens of the US that tested the limits of human technology.

Presidents use the Oval Office for what they regard as vital national issues.

The speech comes as opinion polls suggest a majority of Americans disapprove of how Mr Obama has handled the crisis – the worst environmental disaster in US history.

. June 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Five Thousand Gulf Oil Spills
— david @ 16 June 2010

That’s the rate that people are releasing carbon to the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion and deforestation today. I know, it’s apples and oranges; carbon in the form of oil is more immediately toxic to the environment than it is as CO2 (although CO2 may be more damaging on geologic time scales). But think of it — five thousand spills like in the Gulf of Mexico, all going at once, each releasing 40,000 barrels a day, every day for decades and centuries on end. We are burning a lot of carbon!

Milan June 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

The Economist printed a political cartoon in response to all this:

Of course, none of this is new. Plenty of presidents have claimed to want to drive the US economy toward the use of alternative forms of energy. Obama will have to put a lot more emphasis on the issue, if he wants to succeed to any meaningful degree.

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