Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Energy Ho Hum

Obama gave a major address about energy policy -- did you notice? (James Fallows' reaction: "Sigh.") It was, I would say, his most purely rhetorical effort to date, lots of words but no meaning. During his campaign he had a lot of concrete things to say about energy policy, but not any more.

The political situation in America right now makes it impossible for him to call for anything bold or interesting. The oil spill has gotten people's attention, but it seems to be playing out as "evil corporation BP committed a crime," not as a nearly inevitable consequence of our ever widening search for harder to get oil. According to the polls I have seen, a majority of Americans are concerned about climate change, but the same polls show that Americans don't feel personally responsible and think the problem can be solved by regulations that require corporations to pollute less. A large majority opposes new energy taxes. Americans feel under siege already, and nobody is in the mood to sacrifice anything. And in the short term it would be expensive to move away from our dependence on coal and oil, so that means nothing will be done.

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