Democrats on BP spill: An argument to go green

One of President Obama’s chief allies on Capitol Hill when it comes to energy and climate change issues, Sen. John Kerry, just told reporters that he sees the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an incentive to move the nation toward alternative fuels.

If the Gulf oil thing tells us anything, folks, it’s that this is not a good risk we’re taking,” Kerry said to USA TODAY’s Susan Page and other reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “The sooner we can move off fossil fuels and into a new energy paradigm, the better for our nation.”

Kerry’s remarks echo those made last night by the president at a series of Democratic fundraisers in San Francisco.

Obama said he shares the “sense of despair” watching video of the oil spill but signaled an increased resolve to tackle the “broader” issue.

Here’s how he described the problems plugging the hole and what it means in the long run:

There’s a reason why those folks are out there drilling a mile down in the water, and then when they hit ground a mile down, they have to go another mile down to get oil. That’s an expensive proposition, it’s a dangerous proposition, it’s a risky proposition. Why are we doing it? Well, we’re doing it because we have not made a transition to a new energy future.

The president expressed support for climate change legislation crafted by Kerry, D-Mass., and his Senate colleagues Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham has since dropped off as a co-sponsor, but he talked positively about the bill as recently as yesterday — though he’s less positive about it’s chances of passage.

As part of an effort to promote their tripartisan deal, the president this year agreed to open previously off-limits areas of the ocean bed to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Kerry makes no apologies for the offshore drilling provisions in the bill. He said it gives states veto power over drilling off their coasts. But, the senator said, there’s no getting rid of offshore drilling for the foreseeable future. offshore drilling is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. “There are 48,000 wells out there,” Kerry told reporters. “You think Americans are going to suddenly stop driving to work tomorrow?”

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