by Max Brantley
An old friend points me toward good comment in the New Yorker on the oil gusher in the Gulf and why now is the time for Obama to strike on energy legislation that begins to turns us away from dependency on burning carbon.
The President does, in fact, share in the blame. Obama inherited an Interior Department that he knew to be plagued by corruption, but he allowed the department’s particularly disreputable Minerals Management Service to party on. Last spring, in keeping with its usual custom, the M.M.S. granted BP all sorts of exemptions from environmental regulations. Ironically, one of these exemptions allowed the company to drill the Deepwater Horizon well without adhering to the standards set by NEPA. For reasons that are hard to explain, the Administration still can’t, or won’t, say exactly how much oil is leaking.
The President needs to set higher standards—for his Administration, for Congress, and for the country. Earlier this month, an energy bill was finally unveiled in the Senate. It is deeply flawed: for a start, it would increase the incentives for offshore drilling, and preëmpt the E.P.A.’s ability to enforce parts of the Clean Air Act. Obama should return to the Gulf and, against the backdrop of the grotesque orange slick, explain to the public why he wants more ambitious legislation. Then he should spend the summer working to get an energy bill passed. He’s not going to get a better opportunity—or so, at least, we have to hope.
And speaking of the New Yorker, you should read Jeffrey Toobin on the judicial activist John Roberts-led Republican majority bloc on the U.S. Supreme Court, busy legislating from the bench and all that other stuff Republicans (and Courtney Henry) profess to hate. Toobin talks further about the piece here.