THE VINE MAY 10, 2010
As noted below, the BP oil spill doesn't seem to be causing many members of Congress to change their minds about drilling, or fossil fuels, or much of anything. The conventional wisdom in D.C. still holds that a climate/clean energy bill is political dicey and will be impossible to pass this summer, regardless of whether major oil company has just poisoned vast swaths of the Gulf.
But is a climate/clean energy bill really that dicey? I've never seen good evidence that this is the case. In fact, most signs suggest the opposite. Case in point: CleanEnergyWorks just commissioned a poll from the Benenson Strategy Group—the group that did polling for the Obama campaign—and came away with some results that jibe with a lot of the other polls out there:
* Overall, 61% of 2010 voters support and just 31% oppose a bill "that will limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy. It would do this in part by charging energy companies for carbon pollution in electricity or fuels like oil.
* 54% would be more likely to re-elect their Senator if he or she voted for the bill (just 30% would be less likely to re-elect).
* 51% would be less likely to re-elect their Senator if he or she voted against the bill (just 30% would be more likely).
* 39% of voters now say they are more likely to support it in the wake of the oil spill.
Now, presumably support will nudge downward once Republicans start devoting all their time to denouncing the Kerry-Lieberman proposal (though, on the flip side, the Benenson poll found that only 31 percent of respondents were receptive to the argument that the bill would be a crippling tax that would send gas prices soaring). But on the whole, there doesn't seem to be much support for the idea that a climate bill is a tough sell right now.