Sen. Lindsey Graham has stepped up to become the leading Republican advocate of a bipartisan climate bill. In a New York Times op-ed on Oct. 11, Graham joined with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to put forward a framework for climate legislation that they say can pass Congress and become “the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.”
Graham wants a climate bill that will:
- boost nuclear power by giving tax credits to the nuke industry, streamlining the permitting process for plants, and supporting R&D for nuclear-waste storage
- offer financial incentives for companies working on carbon-capture-and-sequestration technology, to help the U.S. become “the Saudi Arabia of clean coal”
- open more areas to oil and gas drilling, both onshore and off
- impose a border tax on goods coming from countries like China and India if those nations don’t adopt greenhouse-gas restrictions of their own
- establish “a floor and a ceiling for the cost of emission allowances,” to keep energy prices from rising too high
That’s certainly not the left-wing dream for a climate bill, but the right wing despises it nonetheless. Graham has taken quite a beating from right-wing activists for partnering with Kerry and even for believing that climate change is a real problem.
Graham has gotten lots of money from nuclear-power companies over the years, so it’s no surprise he’s pushing for legislation that would benefit the industry. Mainstream enviros don’t like Graham’s nuclear boosterism, but are hesitant to be too critical because he could help get the 60 votes needed to push a climate bill through the Senate. He’s already influenced Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, who recently said she might support a bill if it boosts nuclear power and oil drilling.
Despite his work toward a climate bill in the Senate, Graham is no fan of the House climate bill that passed in June. “What I’m trying to do is make sure that the Markey-Waxman bill from the House is dead,” he said at an Oct. 12 town-hall meeting in Greenville, S.C., where conservative activists were attacking him for his climate stance.
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