The conservative senator from South Carolina has delivered the quote of the week, which I for one will be using again and again. I think he has exactly the right framing, and I’ll expand on this next week.
At the same time, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told reporters, “I want to vote for a cap-and-trade bill.”
Graham has consistently shown that he does get it. Like all of us who speak on this subject a great deal, he sometimes doesn’t quite say things the way he’d like (see “Is there going to be a bipartisan climate, energy security, clean air and clean energy jobs bill this year?“).
But in E&E News PM (subs. req’d), Graham ended any confusion about where he stands on this most important of issues:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted today that he still supports placing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and would work to win over reluctant Republicans as part of a broader bill that also opens the door to more domestic energy production.
“To jump-start nuclear power, wind and solar and the green economy, you’ve got to price carbon,” Graham told reporters today. “How you do it is subject to discussion and open debate. But the idea of not pricing carbon, in my view, means you’re not serious about energy independence. The odd thing is you’ll never have energy independence until you clean up the air, and you’ll never clean up the air until you price carbon.”
What about that notorious quote in the NY Times?
Graham, who is working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on the issue, was quoted today in a New York Times story that suggested the Senate would end up drafting a climate bill that is more modest than original expectations.
“What is dead is some massive cap-and-trade system that regulates carbon in a fashion that drives up energy costs,” Graham told the newspaper.
But Graham aides said the quote was taken out of context. And Graham told reporters that he is simply skeptical of the cap-and-trade approaches taken in the House-passed climate bill (H.R. 2454), as well as a similar bill approved last fall by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (S. 1733).
Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are working behind closed doors on a new measure that puts a limit on carbon while expanding domestic energy production. Absent a marriage between those two issues, Graham said he doubted anything would ever pass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.
“There will never be 60 votes, ladies and gentlemen, for the energy independence package that I so much want for our nation,” Graham said during a conference hosted by labor, farming, military veteran and environmental groups. “And there will never be 60 votes for climate change legislation as it exists today. And it’d be a shame if that’s the end of this story. That would be unacceptable to me and to you and a lot of other people.”
Yes, the conventional wisdom says it still a very steep climb — see Grist’s Dave Roberts in his piece, “Cap-and-trade death knell, revisited and revised.” Roberts may be right, but I’m a “glass is one third full” guy, so let me end with another swing Senator who wants a bill, but knows he might not get it:
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a swing vote on the issue, told reporters that he would prefer to see Congress pass legislation capping greenhouse gas emissions so long as it dealt with trade-sensitive industries such as aluminum, chemical, glass and steel. “I want to vote for a cap-and-trade bill,” Brown said.
But Brown also said the Senate may have to pull back if opponents do not budge. “We’ll move as fast as we can on elements of this, and maybe it’s comprehensive, and maybe it’s not,” he said. “But that doesn’t matter to voters. And that doesn’t matter to CO2 as long as we do it right.”
What a shame it would be if a handful of weak-kneed Senators blocked the best chance the nation and the world had in a generation to preserve a livable climate and advanced energy independence, while creating jobs and reducing pollution (see “The central question for 2010: Will anti-science ideologues be able to kill the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill?“).