Democrats Jump Ship Off Reid's Energy Bill
Jul 30, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Dana Gattuso in Climate, Energy, Environment

“Harry Reid — The Scream.” Source: absentee_redstate’s photostream, Take out cap and trade, utility emissions caps, and renewable energy mandates from the Senate energy bill and you still get legislation that kills jobs, raises energy prices, and limits offshore drilling. Little surprise experts are calling the legislation headed for a vote next week “dead on arrival.”

A “spill bill” might have garnered broader, bi-partisan support if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had stuck to his promise to introduce legislation that ensures BP cleans up its mess, and that such a spill disaster even close to this magnitude never happens again. Unfortunately, that’s not what this bill would do.

The provision to lift the $75 million liability cap on damages oil companies pay for oil spills fails to address the root of the problem—essentially, a regulatory system that failed us—while penalizing small and midsize oil drilling companies that can’t afford liability insurance and therefore will not be able to operate in the Gulf.

Here’s Sen. Democrat Mary Landrieu, from a hearing last May, coming out against the measure for the impact it would have on jobs in the vulnerable Gulf region, energy prices, and offshore drilling:

With all due respect to [my colleagues who] are calling for unlimited liability, it will put out of reach the possibility for insurance, which is extremely important for this and any industry to have to operate.

Watch now as more Senate Democrats abandon their Majority Leader and his energy plan. Here’s Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska calling the bill blatant “political posturing.” 

In fact, Mr. Begich is now telling media sources that he may come out in support of the Republican energy alternative: 

Alaska’s Democratic senator said Wednesday that he may sign on in support of a Republican energy bill because he’s not satisfied with the proposal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put forth. 

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told The Associated Press he’s reviewing the GOP plan and would have no problem backing it if he finds it more acceptable than the Democrats’ current proposal.


Begich said he has several problems with the Reid proposal, including the elimination of a $75 million cap on economic liability from an oil spill. Begich said he believes the current limits must be raised but that doing away with a cap would be a job killer and limit opportunities for offshore drilling.

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