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Oil spill's impact on climate change bill

John Kerry, lead negotiator for the energy bill.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Down to the Gulf Coast now, BP said this afternoon it's going to be Monday before a giant containment dome will be in place over the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is a rare reminder of some of the hidden costs of using fossil fuels like we do. Cutting back on oil was one of the things the energy and climate bill set to be introduced in the Senate was supposed to do.

But Marketplace's John Dimsdale explains the spill is fouling the political waters.


JOHN DIMSDALE: A small group of Senators is close to a compromise energy bill. It would cut carbon emissions, but also expand offshore oil drilling. Before the oil spill, President Obama endorsed that. But now White House officials say no new drilling will be approved until the cause of the spill is found.

And opponents want no drilling closer than 125 miles from the coast, calling that a non-starter.

In a speech today, the lead negotiator for the energy bill, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, seemed undeterred by the spill.

JOHN KERRY: When we roll out a bill -- and we will roll it out very, very soon -- we are going to have a unique coalition.

Kerry's bill would make it more expensive to use fossil fuels. Republicans say they'll go along with that only if the bill includes incentives for nuclear power and offshore oil production. Otherwise, they argue, the U.S. increases its dependence on foreign oil.

Paul Bledsoe is a former energy adviser to President Bill Clinton. He says how the legislation progresses depends on how serious the spill turns out to be.

PAUL BLEDSOE: Just as the spill is suspended out in the middle of the Gulf, the politics are suspended awaiting its disposition.

Bledsoe says Senators are waiting for the results of a government investigation into the spill that could shape the law.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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"Republicans say they'll go along with that only if the bill includes incentives for nuclear power and offshore oil production. Otherwise, they argue, the U.S. increases its dependence on foreign oil."

"Increase" our dependence on foreign oil? When we are importing 70% of our oil now, how much more can we be dependent? And, when total production from offshore drilling at best would meet 1% of total need in 20 years, how is not drilling offshore going to "increase" our dependence?

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