Gulf oil spill is not an opportunity for Obama

It’s no surprise that Republicans and even a few leading Democrats took exception to President Barack Obama’s attempt this week to link the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to climate-change legislation long stalled in the Senate.

It naturally brings to mind the political dictum of Obama’s friend and chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

But this crisis is about millions of gallons of oil continuing to gush into the waters of the Gulf, destroying aquatic life and much of the Gulf Coast economy. It is not about how we will meet our energy needs far into the future.

Or, as California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein put it: “The climate bill isn’t going to stop the leak.”

The questions of how we obtain and use energy in the future — and the long-term effect on climate — certainly deserve continuing public debate. And few people would argue against a push to wean ourselves, over time, from conventional oil.

But lots of people — this newspaper included — have serious qualms about the climate-change legislation that was approved by the House last year, with its cap-and-trade scheme, as well as the bill now awaiting action in the Senate. The law of unintended consequences may loom large if either of those legislative measures is passed.

There are, of course, reasonable arguments to be made in support of those bills. But they are arguments that should be presented in measured legislative debates, not in the heat of the moment following the worst man-made environmental disaster in our nation’s history.

The president’s attempt to use the Gulf crisis to further his own political agenda and vision for the future doesn’t serve that agenda or this country well — especially those parts of the country now being victimized by the oil spill.


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