Last week, President Obama announced a surprise decision to allow oil and gas drilling off the East Coast of the United States. The world was at once outraged andconfused. What many analysts overlooked is that Obama also said in his speech, “For the sake of the planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.” There was much for both sides to analyze and to debate.
I sat down with CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobinbefore his Foothill College Celebrity Forum appearance, to try to make sense of Obama’s announcement. Toobin is best-selling author of The Nine(On the secret world of the Supreme Court Justices), and two of the most high profile political controversies: Too Close to Call (the Bush-Gore Presidential Recount) and A Vast Conspiracy (the Clinton-Lewinsky Affair), so I figured he’d provide some good insights into Obama’s latest political strategy. See also Huffington Post coverage
On the Obama Offshore Oil Drilling Announcement
“It’s a bit peculiar frankly…it seems on one level that he’s negotiating with himself…conceding something to the pro-development forces before the negotiations have really begun in earnest…but there may be some larger political game at work…that this shows how accommodating he is… ”
On the Republican Reaction
“Gestures of good faith to Republicans have generally been met over the last year and a half with non responsive actions.”
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The Obama administration ought to have sent an envoy to the FountainBlueState of Clean Green Conference on January 29, 2010. A panel of Silicon Valley clean tech experts had much to share in response to Moderator Greentech Media’sEric Wesoff’s question…if you had Department of Energy Secretary, Steve Chu’s job, what would you do? In other words, how can Obama better jumpstart the clean tech economy?
Tim Woodward, Managing Director, Nth Power said the government needs to create market demand, and recommends that every government building should have solar power and be retrofitted for energy efficiency; but warned,
“There’s a little too much of a ‘large check mandate’ in the Federal Government that picks technologies and stifles innovation at lower levels: figure out how to get smaller dollars into the innovation engine of smaller companies.”
“I look at the pricing and incentivizing through market pricing. We’re still subsidizing imported oil without putting the investment into alternative energies…I think we should put a tax on imported oil and use it to help pay off some of the defense spending we’re using to protect the transmission of that oil. We need to forge ahead with cap and trade legislation… until we have a price on carbon it’s hard for the markets to plan and have any certainty.”
In advance of Obama’s trip to Chinathis week, Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman gave a short, sharp economics lesson on climate change and China during our exclusive interview in Silicon Valley, November 12. What does he think the US and Chinese governments should be doing to combat climate change and stimulate the green sector?
Why is he not concerned about China’s lead in clean energy technology?
Krugman explains why negotiating with China over CO2 emissions would be preferable to trying to enforce a carbon tax. Hear all this and more in this Fresh Dialogues interview.
Here are selected quotes:
“Climate change is the mother of all externalities…left without any government intervention, we’re going to basically par-boil the planet.”
“You don’t want to get hung up on the specific sexy technologies (like wind turbines)…look at the history of information technology…nobody gets a monopoly for very long.”
“If we say to the Chinese, we want you to have a carbon tax – how can we really tell it’s enforced? But if we negotiate with the Chinese that they will have total CO2 emissions of so much, we can monitor that pretty well.”
For Part One of the Paul Krugman interview – on Obama’s Job Summit click here
This exclusive interview with Paul Krugman was recorded on November 12, 2009 in SiliconValley. Dr. Krugman was in town to deliver a lecture as part of the Foothill College Celebrity Forum Series. Here are some transcript highights. To listen to the interview click here and or watchvideo.
Alison van Diggelen: Paul thank you very much for joining me on Fresh Dialogues.
Paul Krugman: OK. Good to be doing this.
Alison: Last night, you talked in your lecture of your concern about the unemployment rate. It’s very high and moving higher. In light of Obama’s announcement today about the job summit in DC in December, do you have any advice specific advice for Obama administration, particularly for green jobs?
Paul: Well OK, green jobs I think is going to be a much harder thing to get going. That’s going to take time. That really waits on climate legislation which we won’t get till next year, if we’re lucky.
What he needs to do is get some actual targeted job measures, we need some policies that are aimed at encouraging job creation directly: probably a job tax credit and maybe some subsidies for firms that hang on to jobs. We can learn a little bit from European countries (like)Germany which have been relatively successful in containing the job losses…We just have to get something going…. If I had my druthers, if there were no limits politically, I’d say actually let’s just have a really massive second stimulus plan to get the economy going, but since that’s not going to happen we need some measures that are cheaper, don’t maybe do as much for GDP but create a lot of jobs…
Alison: You said last night he’s been too cautious, Obama has been doing things in half measures. What advice would you give him at this stage?
Paul:This jobs summit can’t be an empty exercise…he can’t come out with a proposal for $10 or $20 Billion of stuff because people will view that as a joke. There has to be a significant job proposal…
Alison: Do you have a minimum he aught to spend?
Paul: There’s no hard and fast number, but if it isn’t several hundred billion dollars…OK, probably it’s not going to be as big as the first stimulus bill and not going to be as big as I think it should be… But I have in mind something like $300 Billion, you could do quite a lot that’s actually targeted on jobs.
Alison: Paul Krugman, thank you very much I really appreciate your taking the time.
Paul: Thank you so much.
Check back soon for more interview segments in which Paul Krugman discusses China, Climate Change and clean technology, the stimulus package, and why he prefers cap and trade over a straight carbon tax. He also explains what gave him that “missionary zeal” to write such fervent columns in the New York Times. To check out more exclusive Fresh Dialogues interviews, click here