Archive for May, 2010
When an explosion destroyed the billion-dollar oil rig Deepwater Horizon, thousands of gallons of oil began spreading across the Gulf of Mexico eventually reaching the Louisiana coast and its fragile wetlands and economically significant fisheries.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the giant oil slick was growing at a rate of 5,000 barrels of oil per day, as authorities worked to put in place a giant dome-like device to cap it temporarily while a more permanent fix was sought. In the meantime, the oil shut down some Gulf fishing and, if it continues to spread, could hit the Florida coast where tourism is king.
But the impacts of the disaster also have spread far beyond the Gulf’s waters to Washington; where Congress has summoned British oil giant BP, which operates the rig with other companies, for a little chat. Environmental groups have held up pictures of oil soaked sea birds and vowed to push even harder to stop offshore drilling. And that new energy and climate change legislation the administration had been angling for has been complicated at the minimum.
With an oil spill so large it can be seen from space fouling a critical international waterway, it would seem a no brainer to demand an end to offshore drilling. But with America’s thirst for oil hardly in decline, it’s not a simple thing to cut off drilling. Banning drilling in the Gulf of Mexico alone would cut America’s domestic oil production by one-third.
Do we really want to stop that production, which would mean handing even more money to foreign oil producers, like Iran, Russia, Venezuela and others?
Before the spill, the administration had been willing to accept new offshore exploration as part of an energy and climate change bill. That could change. The outcry from opponents already has caused the governors of Florida and California to withdraw their backing for offshore drilling projects.
Some lawmakers, like Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), want to raise the limit on the amount of third party damages the responsible companies could face from $75 million to $10 billion. This makes sense as a means of prodding the oil industry toward enhanced environmental and safety standards.
As damaging as this latest disaster has been — it did, after all, claim 11 lives even before the environmental toll began to mount — it could lead to tougher regulations, more informed safety standards and better industry practices. And it could bring a new spotlight on America’s reliance on foreign oil and spur new efforts toward conservation, to the benefit both of the environment and the economy.
Congress is right to increase its oversight of offshore drilling and to put new safeguards and tough new standards and penalties into law. At the same time, though, it would be a sad irony if an environmental disaster led Congress to abandon climate change and energy legislation. And it would be an even bigger mistake if the Deepwater Horizon disaster were to lead to a blanket ban on new offshore oil exploration.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
Arizona’s new anti-illegal immigration law has not only turned-up the heat on federal immigration reform pushing it to the forefront, but has put added pressure on both Democrats and Republicans.
This divisive issue is a two-edge sword for federal lawmakers of both stripes, not only impacting the 2010 midterm elections but going forward.
For moderate Democrats in swing districts facing tough reelection fights in the fall, supporting reform measures that hint of a “pathway to citizenship”–which for many translates into “amnesty”– could, and most likely will, hurt them at the ballot box. Data clearly indicates that swing voters in many competitive districts in the South and Midwest overwhelmingly approve of the new Arizona law that requires police to determine a person’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” they are in the U.S. illegally.
For Republicans, embracing Arizona’s tough new measure, while carrying some short-term benefits, could alienate Latino voters and severely damage GOP efforts to woo that important constituency.
Critics of the new Arizona law including Hispanic groups, civil rights activists and organized labor, claim the law sanctions racial profiling.
Supporters of the new law point to the need to curb crime, including drug smuggling along the border. More importantly they say the law addresses the inescapable fact that there are an estimated 10.8 million people in the United States illegally.
Several national polls, including separate opinion surveys conducted by CBS, Gallup and Rasmussen, clearly show that Arizona’s new law is popular with a majority of American voters. There is strong support across the board for Arizona’ crackdown on illegal immigrants, with the Rasmussen survey indicating that 60 percent of voters nationwide backed the state’s statute.
The one thing on which both critics and backers of Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law can agree– is that the federal government has failed to adequately secure the borders and stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who is facing a very tough reelection fight, took the opportunity presented by the Arizona immigration statute, signed into law in late April, to shift the Senate’s attention from climate legislation to immigration reform.
“Democrats and Republicans can all agree that our immigration system is broken,” said Reid who has indicated he wants to see swift movement on comprehensive immigration reform. A draft proposal by Senate Democrats has already started making the rounds but there is little hope of a deal being reached before the midterm elections.
Senate Republicans just aren’t buying in and view the immigration reform push by Reid as a pure politics. The GOP claims Reid is merely trying to score points with Nevada’s Latino voters who make up nearly 25 percent of the state’s electorate. (His GOP opponents all support the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law.)
Since the passage of the Arizona immigration law tens of thousands have joined protests in cities across the country denouncing the new measure and demanding real immigration reform.
On May 5, President Obama said he would like the Senate to begin debate on immigration this year.
“What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system,” said the President.
We at Turner GPA couldn’t agree more.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )