The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is already wreaking devastating ecological effects. So does that mean that now is the time for Democrats to argue for climate change legislation and a reduction to our dependence on fossil fuels? Surprisingly, maybe not. Pundits are suggesting that the spill actually makes climate change legislation less likely, revealing the sometimes ugly politics of climate and energy.

  • Makes Key Agreements Less Likely  The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman reports, "the catastrophic spill could further dim the White House's hopes for securing legislation aimed at reducing U.S. consumption of oil and other fossil fuels, by making it impossible to forge a compromise that includes expanded undersea drilling." Why? "Key Democrats said the spill should drive Congress forward on legislation to address climate change ... But some Democratic and Republican senators said the incident makes progress on energy and climate legislation less likely. Coastal senators, such as Democrats Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Bill Nelson of Florida, vowed to block expanded drilling in any bill."
  • Obama Passing Up Golden Opportunity  Grist's David Roberts sighs, "Obama is not going to do an all-out push. If nothing else, his response to the Gulf oil disaster has made that clear. If he was looking for an opportunity to drive home the clean energy message, this was it -- the Katrina of fossil fuels. Yet all he's done is blandly reaffirm his support for offshore drilling."
  • ...Or Is He?  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein suspects Obama may be waiting it out. "The Deepwater spill is best understood as a national tragedy, and until the crisis phase is over, it would be both political suicide and simply indecent to subsume it into a larger argument about clean energy, oil dependence and climate change."
  • Will Congress Rise to the Challenge?  The New York Times' Thomas Friedman argues, "The only meaningful response to this man-made disaster is a man-made energy bill that would finally put in place an American clean-energy infrastructure that would set our country on a real, long-term path to ending our addiction to oil."
  • Just More 'Lip Service'  Rachel Maddow is not optimistic. "We have to continue to go forward just as we've always done, just as we've done for decades over and over and over again with each successive oil spill, explosion and fire. Prices paid in lives and lands and in economies. And yet, at the same time, every president in the modern era has paid some amount of lip service to our country's dependency on oil and other fossil fuels."
  • Shows Our Twisted Morals  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan laments, "At some point, those of us who see our relationship to the natural world as something more than mere economics - as something sacred - need to face up to the fact that our civilization is not taking this sacredness seriously enough. When do we ask ourselves: by what right do humans believe we can despoil the earth for every other species with impunity?"
  • Harry Reid Challenges 'Surreal' Assumptions  The New Republic's Brad Plumer shakes his head. "Yes, it's surreal that the [conventional wisdom] in Washington is that a massive oil disaster might make it more difficult to pass a big energy bill intended to wean us off from fossil fuels." But Plumer notes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, pushing back, recently said, "I think it should spur it on. ...We have to take care of this issue."