New York Magazine ran an article on Friday entitled "The Power Grid", which addresses the political opportunities the Gulf oil spill presents the Obama administration. You can find it at

The author, John Heilemann, writes that "[t]his is a moment that screams for Obama to turn" the comprehensive energy/climate change bill "into a crusade, to hammer home the connection between the BP spill and the need to end our addiction to oil, to shout from the rooftops his vision of a cleaner, greener energy future." This may be true. The real question is not, however, whether he can use the disaster as a means of selling such a vision. The real question is how one can do so while at the same time assuring the anxiety associated with the reduction and ultimate loss of offshore drilling. How do you prevent the loss of drilling from becoming a financial insult to the environmental injury? This is not an easy task.

Heilemann also offers "corporate" opportunities which range from placing BP's U.S. subsidiary in temporary receivership to compelling BP to make a dollar-for-dollar match of the damages it has caused in an alternative energy investment vehicle. Both of these are interesting ideas and both seem to bear a more direct tie to the Gulf oil spill.

Finally, Heilmann calls on Obama to force BP to fund a massive jobs program to clean up the damage it has caused. This is a good idea, and one which I suspect might occur in one form or another given BP's repeated assurances that it will "make this right." Heck, my cynical side thinks that BP would agree to this idea because it would create ties to more and more folks who may be in a position to judge it politically and legally down the road.

Overall, Heilmann's concept that Obama should take every effort to create long-standing good out of a really bad circumstance is something we should all agree with. The challenge is to pick the right fights and avoid getting bogged down in the wrong ones.