After eight weeks, President Obama has decided he needs to stop letting our crisis in the Gulf of Mexico go unexploited. In an Oval Office address tonight, he’ll explain why, as he recently told Politico’s Roger Simon, the spill should “shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come” — just as our perspective on foreign affairs was “profoundly … indelibly” changed by 9/11.
Oh, so within eight years our government will be studiously avoiding the word “oil” and referring to “pipeline-caused disasters”? Maybe a future president will make speeches about how oil barons helped pave the way for the European Renaissance.
Nah, probably not.
Obama reportedly hopes the spill will reinvigorate efforts in Congress to pass a cap-and-tax bill. The Gulf oil spill is a tragedy, but it doesn’t change the basic calculus about cap-and-tax — namely that, among other things, it:
1. reduces, not increases, employment by giving companies an incentive to move production to countries without caps on carbon dioxide emissions;
2. represents an enormous opportunity for politicians to game the system by favoring certain industries over others (and certain firms over their competitors — would Toyota really get the same terms as Government, er, General Motors?) in the allowances granted and the initial prices charged for those allowances; and
3. has worked poorly where it’s been tried (for carbon dioxide) so far, most notably in Europe.
Those things were true last summer, when the cap-and-tax bill passed by the House was considered dead on arrival in the Senate. They’re still true now.