By Dave Johnson
Fellow with Campaign for America’s Future
The headline of my local paper today is Obama: Act on clean energy. (But a different headline online – do they do that just to mess up bloggers?)
In the speech the President paid homage to President Carter’s efforts to change America’s energy policies, saying:
For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.
Then the President said we have been outflanked on the coming green manufacturing revolution by countries like China:
The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.
Cap And Trade Dead
In the Huffington Post today, Teryn Norris, Director of Americans for Energy Leadership writes that the President also signaled the death of cap and trade legislation:
Instead of using last night’s prime-time opportunity to push cap and trade … President Obama pressed the reset button on energy and climate policy, saying he was “happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party, as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.” He made no mention of setting a price on carbon or establishing an emissions cap and trade system.
Others are trying to get things done on this front. Norris discusses the emerging Innovation Consensus:
The energy innovation consensus currently includes dozens of Nobel Laureates, Breakthrough Institute, Brookings Institution, National Commission on Energy Policy, Third Way, Association of American Universities, Clean Air Task Force, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Google, and Americans for Energy Leadership, among others. The latest group to join is the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), made up of several of the nation’s top business leaders: Bill Gates, Jeff Immelt, John Doerr, Chad Holliday, Norm Augustine, Ursula Burns, and Tim Solso. Last week, these leaders released a new report, “A Business Plan for America’s Energy Future,” calling for major new federal investment in clean energy technology RD&D — at least $16 billion annually, more than triple the current level (see our news roundup).
Here is the problem. Action on energy requires direct government action and rejection of deficit hysteria to do it. But every single initiative of the Obama Presidency has been blocked by powerful interests, playing on the use of the filibuster on almost every major bill in the Senate. Health care reform was severely weakened by the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. Financial reform has been severely weakened by the financial lobbies. Jobs measures and further stimulus have been blocked by a strategic lobbying campaign to make people think the Bush-created deficit must be cut first. Now cap and trade may have been killed by the oil and gas lobbies.
We are in a direct confrontation between the big corporations and We, the People over who will run things and control the resources of the United States, and We, the People are losing. There is time to turn it around, but only if we recognize this battle for what it is.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project and the “Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy.” Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.
Johnson also is a fellow at the Commonweal Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream.
Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcjohnson
Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:00 am, in From Campaign for America's Future