OBAMA MAKES THE ENERGY CONNECTION…. Many progressive voices have been urging President Obama to be more forceful and direct in connecting the BP oil spill disaster with the need for a comprehensive energy/climate bill pending on the Hill. We’re starting to see evidence that he’s doing just that.

The president, for example, appeared in San Francisco, and highlighted the larger context.

“Even if you hadn’t seen the catastrophe down in the Gulf, the reason that folks are now having to go down a mile deep into the ocean, and then another mile drilling into the ground below, that is because the easy oil fields and oil wells are gone, or they’re starting to diminish.”

He added, “That tells us that we’ve got to have a long-term energy strategy in this country. And we’ve got to start — we’ve got to start cultivating — we’ve got to start cultivating solar and wind and biodiesel. And we’ve got to increase energy efficiency across our economy in our buildings and our automobiles.”

Commenting on his message to Senate Republicans yesterday, Obama added, “There’s been some good work done by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Let’s go. Let’s not wait.”

The president emphasized a related point just a few hours ago:

“[T]he spill in the Gulf, which is just heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources. We’re not going to transition out of oil next year or 10 years from now. But think about it, part of what’s happening in the Gulf is that oil companies are drilling a mile underwater before they hit ground, and then a mile below that before they hit oil. With the increased risks, the increased costs, it gives you a sense of where we’re going. We’re not going to be able to sustain this kind of fossil fuel use.

“[E]ven as we are dealing with this immediate crisis [in the Gulf], we’ve got to remember that the risks our current dependence on oil holds for our environment and our coastal communities is not the only cost involved in our dependence on these fossil fuels. […]

“[T]hat’s why we’ve placed a big emphasis on clean energy. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, it’s the right thing to do for our national security, but it’s also the right thing to do for our economy…. [W]e’ve still got more work to do, and that’s why I’m going to keep fighting to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation in Washington. We’re going to try to get it done this year, because what we want to do is create incentives that will fully unleash the potential for jobs and growth in this sector.”

I haven’t heard the president mention “this year” on the climate/energy bill in a while, so that was at least mildly encouraging, though he did preface it with “try,” as opposed to “will.”

In either case, drawing the connection between the disaster and the need for a new comprehensive policy is key. Here’s hoping we’ll hear this message more often, starting immediately.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.