The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 4/30: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Weekly roundup 4/30: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Just one week after Earth Day, a "spaghetti western" of climate news played out in three interweaving stories through the blogosphere: the Obama administration approved the nation's first offshore wind farm (good), the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is huge and headed to shore (bad), and American Power Act bill framework announcement was halted after one of the chief bill proponents pulled out (ugly). But, let's get the ugly over with first:

Ugly: Last Saturday, Senator Lindsey Graham walked away from the Senate climate bill, leaving its co-architects Senators John Kerry and Senator Joe Lieberman scrambling to postpone the announcement. Sen. Graham said he was outraged at reports that an immigration bill would be addressed ahead of the climate bill, getting him called everything from a "big, fat baby" to a "drama queen" to "completely genuine." The National Journal asked their experts, is this a climate bill tipping point?

Then, Sen. Graham stated that not only was he pulling out of the bill, but that he would filibuster the bill if it came to the floor. EnviroKnow's Josh Nelson contends that this may have been his plan all along:

He is basically saying he can’t move forward on the bill because it has no hope of success. But the primary reason it has no chance of success is because… Senator Graham doesn’t want to move forward on the bill. It’s sort of like refusing to eat because you are hungry. You can take a bold stand on the issue, kicking and screaming for attention, but at the end of the day you’ve only got yourself to blame."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid jumped into the fray during the week, saying the Senate would put climate first, then tackle immigration. Reid told the Talking Points Memo:

"I don't know how my friend Lindsey Graham can say this kills energy [legislation]," Reid said last night in response to a question from TPMDC. "It's up to him."

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein asked Sen. Graham why he would vote against his own bill if immigration moved this year. Graham told Klein he cares equally about immigration and climate change, but didn't want to compromise on climate. When asked if he thought there would be a climate bill this year, Sen. Graham replied with a terse and somewhat enigmatic:


Um, wow, thanks for the strong discourse explaining that answer, Senator. Actually, he did go on to explain that he is needed to bring in business for the bill to succeed and that if "we need more domestic energy supply, we've got offshore drilling." About that, Senator...

Bad: The nation watched with disgust as the dramatic Gulf of Mexico oil spill has potentially grown larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Grist and Treehugger both provided timelines of how the drama unfolded from the April 20th rig explosion to an oil spill larger in size than West Virginia. Today, the Obama administration reversed its previous oil drilling moratorium reversal. Now that the oil slick is hitting shore, there are reports of a strong, foul odor in the New Orleans metro area. Let's hope that stench reaches Washington. Kate Sheppard, in her Daily Beast article, says President Obama needs to rethink his offshore drilling policy:

The increasingly dire situation in the Gulf prompted the administration to hold a press conference with a cadre of agency heads Thursday afternoon, in which they acknowledged that the spill may indeed change the political calculus. The administration's decision to reevaluate their misguided decision on drilling is just a first step. Here's hoping they ditch the policy for good.

Good: So, let's end the week on a good note. After ten years of court battles and delays, the federal government approved the country's first offshore wind farm. Christopher Mims at reminds us that hypocrisy almost killed the project. Check out some of the comments to Juliet Eilperin's Washington Post blog about the announcement. Linnea Palmer-Patton for the Students for a Just and Stable Future praised the victory for renewable energy production as a "a baby step" to prevent rapid climate change. And Stephen Colbert worries about a catastrophic "wind spill" that could occur. Here's his take, always refreshing:

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