A Month after the Oil Disaster, We Need Obama to Lead

Thursday, May 20, will mark one month since BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, sending more than 6 million gallons of crude oil -- probably much more -- into the Gulf of Mexico. Marine waters, wetlands, estuaries, and coastal communities have been paying the price ever since.

I traveled to the Louisiana Gulf Coast last week and saw the devastation for myself and learned about the recovery efforts. Yet I left with the terrible sense that so much remains unresolved. We still don’t even know when the spill will be stopped.

Even as questions persist, there is one thing I know for certain: the Gulf oil spill isn't just an accident. It's the result of a failed energy policy.

Last night, NRDC Trustee Robert Redford appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and eloquently explained that the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the result of America’s persistent over-reliance on dirty fossil fuels.

Redford made it clear that America needs a national energy strategy that moves us away from our dependence on oil and toward a mix of sustainable and renewable power and fuel. We need the Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation to put us on that path.

But in order for the Senate to take this step, it needs leadership from the White House. As Redford said, now is the time for President Obama to be bold and visionary.

“We don’t need a disaster manager. We need a leader. Someone who will look ahead and see problems before they arise, before they become catastrophes that cost money and lives and well being.”

We need President Obama not just to support clean energy and climate legislation; we need him to demand it--to stump for it, negotiate for it, and help gather votes for it. And we need him to do it now.

Yesterday, almost four weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, NOAA confirmed that oil from the spill has reached the Loop Current, which could carry it into the Florida Straits.

The destructive residue of this tragedy could last for months--likely years. But if we act now and pass comprehensive legislation, we can usher in a cleaner, safer energy future. We need President Obama to lead the way.