[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/10/art.oil.gi.jpg caption ="Many say lawmakers are missing an opportunity to reform the energy sector, in light of the recent Gulf oil spill."]
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Never let a good crisis go to waste. That's paraphrasing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's supposed argument for sweeping reforms to the American economy amid the meltdown.
Now many say lawmakers are doing just that with the oil spill: failing to enact sweeping energy reform to wean the nation off fossil fuels while the public is fixated on events in the Gulf.
"This incident is a punctuation point," said Joseph Stanislaw, an independent energy adviser at Deloitte & Touche. "We've never had an energy policy, and we've been squandering opportunities for decades."
The energy policy favored by Stanislaw, many Democrats in Congress, and most renewable energy advocates involves making fossil fuels more expensive either by adding some type of tax or putting a price on carbon emissions. It also involves requirements that utilities buy more clean energy, as well as lots of money for energy conservation.