What Did We Get Out of Obama's Oil Spill Address?S

President Obama gave a 20-minute address about the BP oil spill tonight, discussing the recovery efforts and the need for new energy policy. So what fun new policies can we expect? Carbon tax? Automatic murder of BP executives? A horse?

So, weird episode of NCIS tonight! Instead of a naval-type murder, there was a Presidential address. From the Oval Office, no less, because we are at war, with Big Oil/Great Britain/Pelicans. President Obama spoke for about 20 minutes, discussing the efforts to contain the spill, the plan for restoring the Gulf Coast, and connecting the disaster to our fat asses by pointing out that using a lot of oil means drilling for a lot of oil, and that's dangerous, and unsustainable, and we'd all be eating shrimp po' boys right now if you would just buy a bike and walk to the goddamn store, for once. Ha ha, no, he actually just mumbled some words about how we need a "clean-energy future," at some point, but, you know, no pressure.

On a scale of "boring" to "historic," this gets "good way to kill time before the Lakers/Celtics game." There was no "soaring rhetoric" Obama (in fact, it was kind of surprisingly not-that-well-written) or "hella pissed" Obama, just "guy in charge" Obama and "I'm a Christian, really, check out this story about God-type stuff" Obama. The address probably won't convince everyone to sell their Hummers, but if those pictures of the oily birds didn't do that, I don't know what will.

In any event, a few new things were announced, and some things we were all hoping for were not.

What We Got

  • A liability fund, paid into by BP and administered by a third party. I guess this was the "mad Obama" part of the speech? He's so mad at BP, he's going to set up a trust and make them put money in it. It's no Tony-Hayward's-head-as-a-paperweight, but it'll do.
  • A "long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of [the Gulf Coast] region." Obama says he's asked Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to develop such a plan.
  • A new head for the Minerals Management Service, the federal body that oversees drilling regulation. Michael Bromwich, a former prosecutor, will take over the MMS, and hopefully, you know, do the job he's supposed to do ("regulate offshore drilling") instead of the job all the old MMS heads did ("get invited to parties by oil executives").
  • A moratorium on oil drilling. Like, duh.

What We Didn't Get

  • Carbon pricing. Placing some kind of tax on carbon emissions is, according to basically anyone who pays attention (so, no one in the Senate), the only way to actually address the systemic problems with our energy consumption and the catastrophic effects that consumption has on the environment. Obama didn't rule it out (he said he'd listen to any proposal from either party, which, you know, LOL, can't wait to hear any Republican plan for solving anything), but its (expected) absence isn't a great sign for anyone who doesn't want to irrevocably fuck the planet, forever.
  • Specific goals or benchmarks for renewable energy. It'd be nice to hear Obama set new, ambitious goals for our totally necessary and yet still endlessly delayed move toward a renewable grid. But he didn't. Why? Because Americans just don't give a shit about this.
  • A time machine, that we could go back in, and make this not happen.