Friday, June 25, 2010

Inhofe Op-Ed: Reasoned Debate Needed To Amend Energy Legislation

The Hill 

Reasoned debate needed to amend energy legislation

By Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)


Link to Op-Ed 

See Also: Inhofe Op-Ed in Human Events: Obama Trumpets Radical Energy Agenda

See Also: Vitter Op-Ed: Gulf oil spill should not be exploited for political gain 

As oil continues to leak into the Gulf, President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership face a critical test: Will they seek prudent measures to directly address the BP disaster or will they exploit the tragedy by advancing extraneous measures that drastically reduce domestic energy production, or even enact new energy taxes on consumers and small businesses?

My sincere hope is that President Obama exhibits the leadership necessary to engage in a reasoned debate - one that produces the same outcome following the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. After a year-long debate and bipartisan negotiation, Congress unanimously passed the Oil Pollution Act in 1990. The OPA has largely been untested, and some of my colleagues believe it should be updated to account for new realities produced by the BP spill. I couldn't agree more.

Yet the leading proposal to amend the OPA could severely curtail domestic energy production in the Gulf. The "Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act," introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), is ostensibly motivated by the desire to make BP, not the taxpayers, pay for the tragedy it unleashed. No one disagrees with that. And no one disagrees that BP must fairly and expeditiously compensate the various business owners now out of work because of BP's actions. But if the Menendez bill becomes law, more than BP could pay: The estimated 150,000 workers connected to the offshore oil and natural gas industry could pay with their jobs and their livelihoods.

As Federal District Court Judge Martin Feldman wrote in his decision yesterday overturning the Obama administration's wrong-headed moratorium on deepwater production, "Oil and gas production is quite simply elemental to Gulf communities." This, and the other elemental fact that Gulf energy production is essential to America's economy, is the principal reason Congress should deliberate carefully on Gulf spill legislation.

I have objected four times to attempts to circumvent the committee process and pass the Menendez bill in the Senate. Emotions are no doubt running high, but we must resist the urge to let emotion dictate the course of deliberations. The legal and regulatory issues involved in legislating on this issue are intricate and complex and therefore should compel us to think carefully about how to proceed.

I take pause on Menendez because of what the experts are telling us. The bill could make exploration and production so costly that only Big Oil companies such as BP, and state-owned firms, such as China's National Offshore Oil Corporation, could afford to operate in the Gulf. Consider INDECS insurance, which said of the Menendez bill: "If we have understood the proposals correctly, then it would appear to us that the proposed bill will not act as ‘Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010', rather making it impossible for anyone other than ‘Big Oil' to operate."

For a time, the Obama administration shared this view. Just after the Menendez bill was introduced, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Senate Energy Committee that, "It is important that we be thoughtful relative to that, what that cap will be, because you don't want only the BP's of the world essentially be the ones that are involved in these efforts, that there are companies of lesser economic robustness." That the view of the administration then rashly changed to endorse Menendez raises a question: what changed?

One can only speculate; I regret that partisanship may have intervened. Whatever the reason, we need a workable solution that balances the important values of energy production, environmental protection, safety and fairness for affected parties. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, on which I serve as Ranking Member, plans to markup the Menendez bill next week. I hope before then the committee, and then the full Senate, can agree to a bipartisan solution that achieves appropriate balance.

That balance certainly won't be achieved if Democratic leaders insist on attaching energy taxes and other unrelated provisions to the eventual spill bill. And it certainly won't be achieved if they insist on enacting a political agenda animated by aversion to domestic energy production. Nevertheless, I will continue work with my colleagues to craft legislation that holds oil companies accountable without putting jobs and America's energy security at risk.

Listen/Read: Inhofe Crafting Measure To Allow States To Offer Pure Gasoline

The Hill

Inhofe to unveil bill allowing states to opt out of ethanol mandate

By Michael O'Brien


LISTEN: Inhofe Interview with Pat Campbell on KFAQ

See Also:  BNA: Inhofe Planning Legislation to Let States Opt Out of Mandate for Ethanol in Auto Fuel

See Also: Inside EPA: Harkin's Threat Over E15 Delay

See Also: Biofuels Digest: Inhofe to introduce bill giving states opt-out from ethanol

Link to Article

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) will offer legislation next week that would allow states to opt out of federal law requiring a certain level of ethanol be blended into gasoline.

Inhofe says he's crafting a measure he thinks could pass the Senate that would allow state legislatures to choose to offer pure gasoline for sale in their states.

"I'm going to introduce on Tuesday - and I'm going to announce it today - that we are designing something we think will pass, and that is a state opt-out," Inhofe explained on KFAQ radio in Oklahoma. "Where a state - and it would take a resolution from a state legislature - it would allow them to opt out of this mandate."

Inhofe is the top Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he'll presumably offer his ethanol language next week.

The legislation would provide for states to offer pure gasoline alongside ethanol-gas mixtures, for which federal regulations currently call. Ethanol is supposed to make up 10 percent of the content of gas sold in the United States.

An aide to Inhofe said that they see optimism for bipartisan support for the option, possibly along the fault lines seen in the 2007 energy bill, where some conservatives joined liberals, driven by environmental concerns, in opposition to the ethanol mandates.

Inhofe defended the move as one that would pay off in the long run for consumers.

"Now, you might say, 'It costs about eight cents more,' " he said. "Well, your mileage more than offsets that, and the life of the engine, all of these things - I think we all understand now, it was a mistake on the mandate, they can't back down, but we can carve out an exception for the state of Oklahoma."


Inhofe Hearing Statement: Oversight of EPAs Superfund Program

Sen. Inhofe made the following statment Tuesday afternoon at a Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health subcommittee hearing entitled, "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program."

Good afternoon. Chairman Lautenberg, as always, it's good to see you, and I continue to hope for your speedy recovery.

We are here today to hold an oversight hearing on EPA's Superfund program.  As the Ranking Member on the EPW Committee, and as the Ranking Member on this subcommittee, I am glad to be here to discuss this important program.

As I've noted before, the Obama Administration has exploited the BP spill to pursue a radical agenda to shut down America's domestic production of oil and gas.  Of course, there's ample evidence for that-just consider its recent support for legislation to reimpose the Superfund tax.

The Obama Administration has consistently supported that tax - but until recently, other than mentioning it in budget documents, its public support was muted.  But the spill has changed that - now they feel the political climate is right to tax oil and gas companies.

Yet many forget how broadly the Superfund tax applies.  If you own a business with over $2 million in revenue - regardless of what you manufacture - you would pay the tax.  In other words: the Superfund tax is also a small business tax, affecting thousands of such businesses across the country, and their employees. 

If the Obama Administration is serious about finding ways to stimulate the economy and create jobs, imposing a tax on small businesses is obviously the wrong remedy.

I should also note that responsible parties under Superfund already pay for approximately 70 percent of the clean-ups.  I would challenge EPA to show me one site where a viable,  potentially responsible party has not been made to pay their share.   That's as it should be.  The other 30 percent are orphan sites - that means EPA can't locate the responsible parties, because they no longer exist.  Now again, some think reimposing the Superfund tax means more sites will be cleaned up faster.  But that's not true.  As the Government Accountability Office noted last year in a report I requested, "the balance in the Superfund trust fund does not affect the funds available for current or future annual appropriations."

Now,  I'd like to turn to something more positive.  I would be remiss not to mention EPA Region Six and once again say how pleased I am with the progress that we have achieved at Tar Creek.  There is much more to be done, but I am very pleased with the progress we have made so far.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, one in four Americans lives near a Superfund site.  For instance, the Washington Naval Yard is the closest Superfund site to the Capitol, located on the Anacostia River.  Superfund sites are all around us, making this a program of great importance.

The pace of cleaning up Superfund sites has been a prominent issue and remains so today. However, the logical reason for this is not due to a lack of funding, as some of my colleagues may argue.  This is due to the fact that EPA is addressing larger and much more complex sites, such as Tar Creek.  By their very nature, these large sites take more time and resources to complete.  EPA prioritizes these sites, and for those of us who have waited patiently, while other states have had multiple sites cleaned up in a given year, it is frustrating to hear these complaints.

If we want to expedite the pace of clean-ups, and ultimately reduce costs, in some cases, we should give more latitude to local and state officials, who know these sites first hand.  That's because sometimes, unfortunately, EPA can get in the way. 

A prime example of this is the Highway 71/72 Refinery in Bossier City, Louisiana.  This was a former refinery that was redeveloped for private residences and that eventually became contaminated.  This was a site where the local and state governments and the company jointly worked out a viable solution.  EPA, however, to the dismay of those involved, objected and overruled it.

One other Superfund issue that I would like to address is the need for EPA to reduce its administrative costs.  A perfect example of this is EPA's new Integrated Cleanup Initiative.  This initiative attempts to remarket EPA's progress at Superfund sites.  This will provide new metrics to measure progress at Superfund sites.  So EPA is essentially using taxpayers hard-earned dollars to create a public relations tool. 

I believe that this makes no sense, and I hope that my colleagues on this committee will agree with me.  Even if we disagree on Superfund issues, we will always use the same metrics that have been used for the past thirty years to measure progress at Superfund sites.  So no one, except EPA, will be using this initiative.   This is money that could be used on the ground to fund clean-ups; instead, it's being used to wage a public relations campaign.   This is exactly the type of administrative cost that EPA should be reducing instead of increasing, and I hope that they will redirect their funds to actually cleaning up these sites.

I look forward to hearing from the witnesses especially Dr. J. Winston Porter testimony on panel two. Thank you.

Watch/Read: Inhofe Vindicated On Global Warming Tulsa  

Oklahoma Senator On Global Warming: I've Been Vindicated

Jun 25, 2010

By Alex Cameron, Oklahoma Impact Team

WATCH: Oklahoma Senator On Global Warming: I've Been Vindicated

Link to Article  

PERRY, OK -- He's been called an idiot, a climate killer, and one of the worst enemies of the planet, and it couldn't make Jim Inhofe more proud.

To Oklahoma's senior U.S. Senator, the insults just validate his efforts to expose what he says are the lies and exaggerations of global warming alarmists. And, as he told our Oklahoma Impact Team, his efforts are finally paying off, because public opinion on the issue is shifting.

Recent polls show this claim to be true.

A Pew Research Center poll done last October showed that Americans who believe there's "solid evidence the earth is warming" had dropped from 71 percent in 2008 to 57 percent. Also, a Gallup poll this March showed that the percentage of Americans who feel the seriousness of global warming is being exaggerated had jumped from 31, in 2008, to 48.

Poll results like those have Senator Inhofe feeling, not only validated, but vindicated.

"It was eight years ago that I got involved in this whole global warming, cap and trade thing," Sen. Inhofe explained to a group of voters recently at a town hall meeting in Perry.

"I was called the worst person--well, the most dangerous man on the planet," Inhofe recalled, "that's what they called me at that time."

'That' time was not long after a signature speech Inhofe delivered on the Senate floor in July 2003, in which he offered "compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax."

The speech thrust Inhofe into a position few, if any, other elected officials had publicly staked out -- global warming denier. Not only was the self-proclaimed maverick saying that global warming is not being caused by human activity, he was saying global warming isn't happening at all.

"Now, I have to say," Inhofe told us in a sit-down interview, "it was miserable for about six years, because I was the only one out there."

Inhofe was ridiculed and dismissed in mainstream and left-leaning publications, and he says even his own granddaughter questioned his thinking.

"She said, 'why is it that you don't understand global warming?' This is my granddaughter!"

But then came the scandal that gave Inhofe and other climate change skeptics something tangible to hold up for public scrutiny. And it came, perhaps not coincidentally, on the eve of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen last December.

Dubbed "Climategate," the scandal surrounded the publication of more than a thousand hacked e-mails between top climate change scientists affiliated with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.

Among other things, the e-mails made reference to the use of a statistical "trick" to hide a decline in temperatures; to keeping papers that contradicted the scientists' conclusions about climate change out of the UN climate report; and to the current lack of warming not fitting with their global warming theory.

Follow-up investigations conducted by the British Parliament, as well as, by university authorities have cleared the scientists and their science.

But Senator Inhofe says his own investigation has shown that Climategate is "real" and that the science behind global warming has been "cooked."

"After what has been exposed now," Inhofe stated, "I can't imagine there's anyone out there who really does believe."

The truth is, of course, there are many who still believe that the earth is warming.

Oklahoma climatologist Gary McManus is one of them, despite the e-mail scandal.

"I took that controversy very seriously and I did look through all the documents," McManus said.

He says the e-mails do reflect poor decisions by some of the most influential scientists in the field, but "that doesn't really devalue the rest of the science that the world has provided us on climate change."

McManus says the science has been independently verified at numerous labs, including NASA and the National Climatic Data Center, both in the United States.

"Overwhelmingly, that science reports that the earth has been warming," McManus said, "and the cause is mainly the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Senator Inhofe calls that alarmist rhetoric. He says the e-mails showed how scientists have manipulated data to fit their theory, and have exposed the global warming lie.

In another signature moment, shortly after the scandal broke last November, Mr. Inhofe told the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Barbara Boxer, D-California, the issue is now settled:

"It's over, gone, done. We won, you lost, get a life!"

And, in another bit of good timing for Inhofe, Washington, D.C. was blanketed in record snowfall around this same time. Visiting Inhofe family members built an igloo not far from the Capitol and crowned it with a homemade sign reading: Al Gore's New Home. (Former Vice President Gore is among the leading proponents of global warming theory.)

"We've won that battle," Inhofe told the gathering of about 50 people in Perry.

Senator Inhofe insists the 'consensus' on global warming is now unraveling, and says, after enduring years of name-calling and disparagement, the last laugh will be his.

"Everything you found out in Climategate on how they're cooking the science, I said on the Senate floor back then," Inhofe explained to the crowd. "Now I've been vindicated."

Polls may show public opinion shifting more in line with Senator Inhofe's views, but they also show that his views remain in the minority. A poll conducted by Stanford University in the first week of June shows three out of four Americans think the earth has been warming over the last 100 years, and the same number think human activity is at least in part to blame.

In the News... The Oklahoman: Editorial: Spill Not Likely To Change Dislike For Cap-and-Trade

The Oklahoman

Editorial: Spill not likely to change dislike for cap and trade

Inhofe has predicted legislation's doom for months

June 24, 2010

Link to Editorial

TO anyone who'll listen, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe swears cap-and-trade legislation coveted by President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress is as dead as Rover - which is to say, all over.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has been predicting cap and trade's doom for months, and nothing has changed his mind. Not even the Gulf oil spill, which the White House believes might rally Americans behind legislation they've panned so far.

During last week's Oval Office speech, Obama used the oil spill to argue America should consume less petroleum and move toward a green-energy future. The president believes cap and trade will encourage reductions in fossil fuel use while lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

Maybe the Gulf spill will ignite public fervor for what essentially would be an energy tax across the breadth of the economy, but we trust Inhofe's instincts - and his ability to count noses in the Senate.

Earlier this month, the Senate narrowly defeated a measure that would have banned the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon without explicit congressional authorization. Though the amendment failed, the vote was significant because six Democrats voted with Republicans - suggesting cap and trade is nowhere near the 60 votes needed to advance. Just like Inhofe says.

Part of cap and trade's problem is its rhetoric about helping to end U.S. addiction to fossil fuels while spawning a new era of clean energy. It's neither feasible nor believable.

As columnist Robert J. Samuelson writes in The Washington Post, oil, natural gas and coal account for about 85 percent of America's energy. Green-energy measures would "dampen" fossil fuel use, Samuelson writes, but the savings would be offset by population and economic growth. "Although wind, solar and biomass are assumed to grow as much as 10 times faster than overall energy use, they provide only 11 percent of supply in 2035, up from 5 percent in 2008," he writes.

Continuing to tell Americans that green energy will magically transport them away from the need for oil - and the risk of oil spills offshore - is "intellectually shallow," Samuelson writes. "Clean energy won't displace oil or achieve huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - for example, the 83 percent cut by 2050 from 2005 levels included in last year's House climate change legislation. Barring major technological advances (say, low-cost 'carbon capture' to pump CO2 into the ground) or an implausibly massive shift to nuclear power, this simply won't happen. It's a pipe dream."

So is the notion that oil spill-weary Americans are eager for higher taxes, hampered economic output and lower standards of living resulting from cap and trade. Which is what Jim Inhofe has been saying all along.

In the News... WSJ Editorial: The Antidrilling Commission

The Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The Antidrilling Commission

The White House choices seem to have made up their minds.

June 22, 2010

Link to Editorial  

"Under my Administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. . . To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. . . I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions, and not the other way around."

-President Obama, April 27, 2009

The President has appointed a seven-person commission to take what he says will be an objective look at what caused the Gulf spill and the steps to make offshore drilling safe. But judging from the pedigree of his commissioners, we're beginning to wonder if his real goal is to turn drilling into a partisan election issue.

Mr. Obama filled out his commission last week, and the news is that there's neither an oil nor drilling expert in the bunch. Instead, he's loaded up on politicians and environmental activists.

One co-chair is former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who fought drilling off Florida throughout his career. The other is William Reilly, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush but is best known as a former president and former chairman of the World Wildlife Fund, one of the big environmental lobbies. The others:

 - Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland "biological oceanographer," who has opposed drilling off the Virginia coast and who argued that "the impacts of the oil and gas extraction industry . . . on Gulf Coast wetlands represent an environmental catastrophe of massive and underappreciated proportions."

 - Terry Garcia, an executive vice president at the National Geographic Society, who directed coastal programs in the Clinton Administration, in particular "recovery of endangered species, habitat conservation planning," and "Clean Water Act implementation," according to the White House press release.

 - Fran Ulmer, Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, who is a member of the Aspen Institute's Commission on Arctic Climate Change. She's also on the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes nuclear power and more offshore drilling and wants government policies "that reduce vehicle miles traveled" (i.e., driving in cars).

 - Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who prior to her appointment blogged about the spill this way: "We can blame BP for the disaster and we should. We can blame lack of adequate government oversight for the disaster and we should. But in the end, we also must place blame where it originated: America's addiction to oil."

On at least five occasions since the accident, Ms. Beinecke has called for bans on offshore and Arctic drilling.

- Rounding out the panel is its lone member with an engineering background, Harvard's Cherry A. Murray, though her specialties are physics and optics.

Whatever their other expertise, none of these worthies knows much if anything about petroleum engineering. Where is the expert on modern drilling techniques, or rig safety, or even blowout preventers?

The choice of men and women who are long opposed to more drilling suggests not a fair technical inquiry but an antidrilling political agenda. With the elections approaching and Democrats down in the polls, the White House is looking to change the subject from health care, the lack of jobs and runaway deficits. Could the plan be to try to wrap drilling around the necks of Republicans, arguing that it was years of GOP coziness with Big Oil that led to the spill?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took this theme for a test drive on Sunday when he said that Republicans think "the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fisherman." He added that this ought to remind Americans "what Republican governance is like." The antidrilling commission could feed into this campaign narrative with a mid-September, pre-election report that blames the disaster on the industry and Bush-era regulators and recommends a ban on most offshore exploration. The media would duly salute, while Democrats could then take the handoff and force antidrilling votes on Capitol Hill.

Even as this commission moves forward, engineering experts across the country have agreed that there is no scientific reason for a blanket drilling ban. The Interior Department invited experts to consult on drilling practices, but as we wrote last week eight of them have since said their advice was distorted to justify the Administration's six-month drilling moratorium.

Judging from that decision and now from Mr. Obama's drilling commission, the days of "science taking a back seat to ideology" are very much with us.

In the News... WSJ Editorial: Obamas Moratorium, Drilled

The Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Obama's Moratorium, Drilled

A federal judge instructs the White House on the rule of law

June 23, 2010

Link to Editorial

As legal rebukes go, it's hard to get more comprehensive than the one federal judge Martin Feldman delivered yesterday in overturning the Obama Administration's six-month moratorium on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a remarkably pointed 22-page ruling, the judge made clear that even Presidents aren't allowed to impose an "edict" that isn't justified by science or safety.

Oil-services companies brought the case, which is supported by the state of Louisiana, arguing that the White House ban was "arbitrary and capricious" in exceeding federal authority, and Judge Feldman agreed. He noted that even after reading Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's report on safety recommendations (which included the ban), and Mr. Salazar's memo ordering the ban, "the Court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium."

Quite the opposite, said the judge, "the Report makes no effort to explicitly justify the moratorium." It does "not discuss any irreparable harm that would warrant a suspension of operations" and doesn't provide a timeline for implementing proposed safety regulations. There is "no evidence" that Mr. Salazar "balanced the concern for environmental safety" with existing policy, and "no suggestion" that he "considered any alternatives." The feds couldn't even coherently define "deep water." Ouch.

As these columns have argued, the judge said that the illogic of the moratorium is that "because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger." Because this will cause "irreparable harm" to jobs and to domestic energy supplies, such a sweeping ban couldn't stand.

The judge also went out of his way to express "uneasiness" over the Administration's claim that its safety report (which recommended the ban) had been "peer reviewed" by experts. Those experts have since publicly disavowed the ban, explaining that the ban was added to the report only after they had signed off on an earlier draft. White House green czar Carol Browner dismissed their complaints, saying "No one's been deceived or misrepresented."

But Judge Feldman directly contradicted Ms. Browner, describing the report's claim of "peer review" as "factually incorrect." Moreover, the Administration's "hair-splitting explanation" of what the experts did or didn't support "abuses reason, common sense, and the text at issue."

The judge's other public service was to list the environmental groups that had joined the Administration's defense against the suit. They included the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose president, Frances Beinecke, has been appointed by President Obama to his deep water drilling commission. Ms. Beinecke ought to resign.

The Administration says it will appeal, but the thorough-going nature of the judge's ruling suggests the Administration will need a much better legal and substantive case to prevail. It would do better to use the ruling as an excuse to drop its purely political ban and stop compounding the spill's damage to the people and economy of the Gulf.

Dems United on Energy Plan: Lots of Enthusiasm, Few Actual Details

"Democrats Still Divided on Energy Bill" - "Lots of Enthusiasm, Few Actual Details" - "Hailed as a Renewed Sense of Unity -- and Little Else." - "Almost like a Little Revival - a Lot of Clapping, a Lot of Yelling"

Inhofe EPW News Roundup

Greenwire: Inspirational' Democratic meeting yields no Senate game plan - Senate Democrats left their latest round of energy and climate talks with what they hailed as a renewed sense of unity -- and little else. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other party leaders called this afternoon's meeting "inspirational," "powerful" and even "thrilling" but conceded that Democrats had yet to rally around any of the legislative proposals currently on the table.

Mother Jones: Dems On Energy Package: Lots of Enthusiasm, Few Actual Details - Senate Democrats emerged from today's caucus meeting with little in the way of clarity on what their energy package might look like. But they were determined, however, to use the issue as a bludgeon against Republicans. Senators described a meeting in which caucus members were united in enthusiasm for passing an energy package, but they also said not many specifics were discussed. John Kerry (D-Mass.) described the meeting as "inspirational." Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said it was "an uprising of rank and file members of the caucus." "A number of senators said this was the best caucus they've ever attended," Majority Leader Harry Reid. But no one could say exactly what a package would look like on energy, climate, or the oil spill. 

The Hill: Dems short on details but pledge unity on energy ahead of White House meeting - Senate Democrats emerged from a caucus meeting Thursday afternoon with a political message that they're jazzed up about moving ahead with an aggressive energy bill, but major questions about the shape of the package remain unanswered. Their talks come days before a pivotal White House meeting next week between President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators on energy legislation that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to bring to the floor next month. Several senior Democrats spoke only in broad strokes and slogans about their plans, but uniformly praised the meeting and claimed momentum. "It was inspirational, quite frankly," Reid said.

WSJ: Democrats Still Divided on Energy Bill - But a number of lawmakers in the Democratic caucus are reluctant, as they are concerned about damage to their own regions. "There's a lot of votes that aren't coming until we get manufacturing right," and "I don't know that utility-only answers those questions," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) told reporters. Manufacturers are heavy users of electricity. "I think that when we get into any kind of cap and trade, we need to have a sober assessment of where the votes are," Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.) cautioned before the caucus meeting.

ChicagoTribune: Senate Dems vow action on energy bill - Senators called the meeting "motivating" and "almost like a little revival - a lot of clapping, a lot of yelling" as one speaker after another voiced a desire to debate the thorny issue."It's one of the best caucuses I've seen and I've been here over 25 years," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). "There is an incredible moment in front of us that has in many ways unified the public -- and that is how do we stop the terrible thing that happened in the gulf from being repeated," he said. "Even if we lose, we carry a message that has meaning." What remains to be seen are the details of a bill that Senate leaders plan to craft from various measures and whether it would contain a provision to cap carbon - essentially a tax on polluters. Senators spoke repeatedly of the need for legislation that, as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) put it, "makes polluters pay" - which has emerged as a new way of framing the issue of carbon pricing. Any legislation still faces an uphill climb as even Democratic senators are loathe to be seen as proposing a tax or sweeping government regulation as the midterm elections approach. Republicans are fighting any such plan.