Will the Oil Spill Become America’s Moment to Embrace a Clean Energy Future?

By Larry J. Schweiger

As I head back from the Gulf coast today, where I saw firsthand some of the terrible impacts of the BP oil disaster, I read Al Gore’s excellent op-ed that ran in The New Republic today.

In “The Crisis Comes Ashore,” Al Gore highlights that oil leaking from the Macondo well isn’t the only uncontrolled pollution we’re putting into the environment. Every three seconds, we put the same amount of manmade carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the highest current estimates of oil spilling from the leaking well. Both the oil spill and the carbon dioxide spilling into the atmosphere are causing harm to our planet.

The justifiable outrage over the BP oil disaster may be creating a new opportunity to pass energy and climate legislation, similar to how the public outrage from the Exxon Valdez spill led to the reinvigoration of environmental laws.

Will the oil spill become America’s moment to embrace a clean energy future?

My hope is that as Al Gore says, this “…is one of those clarifying moments that brings a rare opportunity to take the longer view” and that we will take this moment to make the world safe from our oil addiction and the climate crisis.