BREAKING: Sen. Graham walks away from climate and energy bill over immigration plans

Success or failure for Obama Presidency hangs in the balance

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) abandoned his effort to push a climate and energy bill Saturday, saying he would continue only if Democratic leaders promise to relinquish plans to bring up immigration legislation first.

Graham’s departure likely dooms any chance of passing a climate bill this year. He is the sole Republican working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a compromise proposal that they had planned to unveil Monday.

This WashPost story is a huge deal.  If the White House loses Graham that would certainly kill any chances of a climate bill this year.

And Obama cannot possibly be a successful president from a historical perspective if he doesn’t have a domestic climate bill, since that would essentially doom the chance for an international climate deal.  Who really is going to care about accomplishments in banking regulations and immigration when they are suffering through Hell and High Water?  At least tens of millions of more Americans will have health care — because they are certainly going to need it (see “Global Warming Is A Medical Emergency”: Hellish heatwaves to harm health of millions).

George Kennan wrote of U.S. behavior in WWI:

History does not forgive us our national mistakes because they are explicable in terms of our domestic politics.”¦  A nation which excuses its own failures by the sacred untouchableness of its own habits can excuse itself into complete disaster.

That would go double or triple for catastrophic climate change.

And yes, I’m now putting this on the White House — Tom Friedman labels the WH move a “travesty” [and just said on Face the Nation, “Right now in Beijing they are high fiving each other because it means America” can’t move on clean energy for another few years and they can move ahead.]

From the campaign through Copenhagen until now, comprehensive climate and clean energy jobs legislation was always said to be one of the president’s top three priorities, along with the economy and health care.

Indeed, Obama made clear time and time again that comprehensive climate and energy legislation was key to sustainable economic growth and job creation:

Obama at MIT: “From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation”¦. There are going to be those who make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.”

Like no President before him “” indeed, like no major U.S. politician since Robert F. Kennedy “” he has stated again and again that our current path is unsustainable and doomed to fail, using language very similar to the global economy is a Ponzi scheme metaphor:

  • “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline.” (4/22)
  • “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand.”  (4/14)
  • “We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.” (3/19)

We will find out in the next few days whether he was serious or whether that was all just pretty speechmaking.

It takes five weeks for the EPA to do the analysis on the bill when it is turned over to them, which is just about the time it will probably take to get the financial services bill passed.

There’s plenty of time to do immigration after energy and climate, especially since the conventional wisdom is that the immigration bill has a far, far less plausible chance of becoming law. Tom Friedman writes Sunday,

This critical piece of energy legislation was supposed to be unveiled by the three senators on Monday, but it was suddenly postponed late Saturday because of Senator Graham’s fury that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up a highly controversial immigration measure before the energy bill.

If this is what the Obama administration is doing “” to score a few cheap political points with Hispanics “” it is a travesty.

The WashPost also reports:

According to sources, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) decided to cancel a news conference planned for Monday that would have unveiled their climate and energy plan.

“Joe and I will continue to work together and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics of immigration are resolved. We will continue to work and we will do everything necessary to be ready when the moment presents itself,” Kerry said in a statement. “The White House and Senate Leadership have told us … that this is the year for action, and until they tell us otherwise we’re pressing forward.”

In an interview Saturday evening, Graham said that he had become convinced that the White House and Senate Democratic leaders were not fully committed to focusing on climate and energy legislation this year.

“What was hard has become impossible,” Graham said, referring to the new push for immigration legislation. “I don’t mind doing hard things. I just don’t want to do impossible and stupid things.”

At least we will get to see people’s real priorities as this plays out.  The letter from Graham states (full letter here):

I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.

Recent press reports indicating that immigration — not energy — is their priority have not been repudiated. This has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year. All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do. This is clearly not the case.

I am very disappointed with this turn of events and believe their decision flies in the face of commitments made weeks ago to Senators Kerry, Lieberman and me. I deeply regret that election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent.

I truly appreciate Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and their staff for the long hours of work. They have been tremendous partners who have negotiated in good faith and stood ready to make the tough choices necessary to bring forward a comprehensive energy bill.

I continue to believe our nation’s reliance on ever-increasing amounts of foreign oil poses a direct threat to our national security and economic well-being. I know we can create thousands of jobs by pushing for a renaissance in nuclear power, expanded offshore drilling, and unleashing America’s innovative spirit. One only needs to look to China and Europe, where 21st Century clean energy jobs are currently being created while we fail to act.

Like you, I share the belief that becoming energy independent and better stewards of our environment are complementary — not competing — standards. I was greatly looking forward to the opportunity to address these issues on the floor of the U.S. Senate as we pushed energy independence legislation forward into law. But it appears President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership have other more partisan, political objectives in mind.

Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy. I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress….

Expecting these major issues to be addressed in three weeks — which appears to be their current plan based upon media reports — is ridiculous. It also demonstrates the raw political calculations at work here.

Let’s be clear, a phony, political effort on immigration today accomplishes nothing but making it exponentially more difficult to address in a serious, comprehensive manner in the future….

Lindsey O. Graham
United States Senator

Note:  This post will be update throughout the day.

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61 Responses to BREAKING: Sen. Graham walks away from climate and energy bill over immigration plans

  1. Oliver James says:

    Can you please explain what the “backup” possibilities for the EPA regulating carbon? Maybe the long term play will now be to hope to ratchet up the business pressure to do a deal to forestall EPA enforcement – this will be needed with a narrower Dem majority in the Senate next year.

    My political take: I am sure Obama would prefer to not put climate off, but the midterms and the need for immigration (i.e. base demands) are outweighing this. I think Graham might have been looking for the first possible chance to jump ship and hurt the Democratic base — clearly he feels his own party’s fury at his own “disloyalty” – Republicans have their own base demand issues.

    If there is any possibility (I think there is) that an immigration bill will stem losses this Nov, and D’s still have all three branches next year, then this may work out.

  2. The stoic observation is that the longer the delay, the stronger the bill will have to be…. yes?

  3. Joe says:

    On paper, EPA could do a lot, though in reality, it has a much easier path to regulating emissions from new sources than from existing sources. Anyone who thinks that if a climate bill dies that EPA is going to use its authority to shut down any significant number of existing coal plants anytime soon lives in a different political world than I do. No bill this year means no bill until 2013 at the soonest and probably not until after a lot of really bad climate sh!t happens.

    Also, EPA action cannot plausibly be the basis of U.S. international commitments, and thus is hard to see how global negotiations could go forward in a meaningful fashion.

  4. raleigh Latham says:

    Harry Reid better not pull this sh*t right now, dealing with Immigration before Climate Change is like putting out beach towels when a Tsunami is racing to shore.

  5. Oliver James says:

    Joe, why 2013? I do expect the 2012 cycle to be much better for Democrats, but I think the chances of them holding on this fall to the House (decent) and Senate (all but assured) mean that a bill would be possible in the 2011-12 session (more likely 2011). Do you say 2013 because you expect loss of the House?

    [JR: I can’t see the House taking it up again in the next Congress if the Senate and WH pull the rug up from underneath them. Typically, things that lose politically take a long time to come back. Think health care, BTU tax from 1993.]

  6. I hesitate to be over definitive about the present political situation because words and deeds do not always match in the political game. Nevertheless, “if not now, when?”, is a relevant question. If “no” now, then for the U.S. it will be a race between melting ice and glaciers, record heat, and dangerous storms versus common sense. Eventually, everyone will realize we have to act. Will it be too late? My reading of the science papers is that no one knows, but most suspect that feedbacks are either taking hold right now or will very shortly be strong enough for us to say that “tipping points” have been reached.

    I work every day trying to get the global warming message out to the public through newspaper columns and public lectures. I write letters to politicians. I don’t know what more I can do considering my age and lack of a power position. Joe, you and your fellow bloggers have done wonders. However, two-party politics has stalled legislative progress. Do you think a third party, a Global Warming Party, might provide enough free media publicity to alert the public and its representatives to get legislation moving again?

  7. Lore says:

    If immigration, next, takes center stage it will mean the death of any climate legislation taking place during this presidential term.

  8. Oliver James says:

    I think Graham is pulling this only because he and his party know that immigration will be very helpful to Democrats in November.

  9. Peter Wood says:

    I haven’t heard anything about an immigration bill text coming out next week, so it seems ridiculous to do immigration first. There is a problem with the Arizona state government on immigration, but hopefully Obama can use his executive power on that issue in the meantime. It would be difficult to pass an immigration bill without Graham’s support anyway.

  10. john atcheson says:

    What are the chances that the Immigration Bill is a pre-text, and the real deal is that Graham is folding to his Party’s whackjob leaders who: 1) Don’t want Obama to accomplish anything, period; and 2)Have always carried the fossil fuel industries water on the Hill, and always will?

    I’d say about 100%.

    This came as no surprise to me.

  11. Jonah says:

    Ugh, that’s so depressing. Not that my Republican friends would ever believe anything unless it came out of Glenn Beck’s mouth, but it did shut them up to say that Graham was on board. Obama needs to get on the horn, and patch this up, before the monday news cycle. If this doesn’t get patched up real fast, it’s over for 2010, and that would be a non-metaphorical disaster.

  12. Jim Edelson says:

    Sen. Grassley walks away from Sen. Baucus after weeks and months of negotiation on health care reform.


    Sen. Corker walks away from Sen. Dodd after weeks and months of negotiation on financial regulatory reform.


    Sen. Graham walks away from Sen. Kerry and Sen. Lieberman after weeks and months of negotiation on climate and energy.


    Is there someone here that still thinks there is a party, or even individual Senators, on the other side of the aisle who isn’t treating ‘bipartisanship’ as pure charade? Is there anyone who could seriously blame this turn of events on President Obama?

  13. Chris Dudley says:

    I wonder if he judges that the timing for drill-baby-drill has become problematic with 1000 barrels of oil a day leaking into the Gulf?

    Junk the drilling and the nukes and the coal coddling and let’s get serious.

  14. Matt Dernoga says:

    Immigration legislation is nowheres near as far along as climate legislation. If Obama and the Dems put the immigration bill ahead of the climate one, it will have been one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen in Congress, and that’s saying something.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:


    I will be at the Earth Day (climate) event at the National Mall in DC tomorrow — three days after the genuine Earth Day, but what’s genuine in Washington these days, anyhow?? — and I will be calling from the crowd, loudly, for effective and prompt climate legislation.

    If President Obama (and other Democratic leaders) does not do what I voted for him TO do, promptly, I will be deeply disappointed, and he (and they) may well lose the energy that I’ve been putting into the matter. If the Democrats try to tackle the immigration issues before they put their full force, from every fiber of their bodies and souls, into addressing climate change, then … well … they shouldn’t count on my support or vote the next time around.

    Period. Exclamation point!


  16. Peter Wood says:

    Is the Senate Democratic leadership putting climate behind immigration reform because it is serious about immigration reform, or is it for political reasons, such as Harry Reid’s reelection? The stupid and draconian immigration law in Arizona requires the administration to be done about it, especially a legal challenge – there is also a case for immigration reform as well, but this is less urgent than a legal challenge. But to do immigration reform would require some Republican support, and the only support so far has been from Lindsey Graham. It does not make sense to put immigration reform ahead of climate legislation to get it passed, it will make immigration reform more difficult as well as make climate legislation more difficult.

    But trying to do immigration reform first could seem like a way of appearing to do something. Harry Reid can appear to do something (without actually achieving anything) and it may help his reelection chances – it voters don’t see through it and realise that it is just a ploy that is not actually designed to actually get legislation passed.

    If the Democrat leadership (including Obama) doesn’t do something about this, then they could well have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The world needs leadership on this issue, and I’m not seeing it.

  17. mike roddy says:

    Deciphering whether Graham caved because of pressure from men like Mitch McConnell, or whether his interpretation of the Administration’s bad faith in marking up immigration first is correct, is not knowable to a spectator like me.

    We are in a planetary emergency. Watching the behavior of our government comes down to determining whether our Senators are gypsies in a flea market, or the Administration is feeling too much heat from the wealthy. It makes you puke just to think about it. When I was doing the rounds in DC in the late 90’s, I had to sit in a hot tub for a month just to give all the scum a chance to ooze out. As with asylum inmates, even the Teabaggers sense a grain of truth here about all of our leadership. Problem is, the good ones either retire or don’t get reelected- so it’s on us, too.

    Now things appear to be getting worse. Mitch McConnell? John Boehner? Joe Lieberman? These are the people who are determining the future of the world? The late period Roman Senate and Robespierre’s Department of Public Safety could not have been any worse, and at least they exercised the power of the majority.

    Support for serious climate change legislation commands a majority among the population and votes in the Senate, but we are caving in to a discredited and blatantly corrupt minority. Dcmocratic leadership complains it’s about the “rules” of the Senate, not majority vote, as outlined in the Constitution. Well, show a little courage for once in your lives and bowl those cheap whores over, including the ones in your own party.

  18. Joe P. says:

    I agree with Chris Dudley. It seems like Graham senses that the oil spill is going to make certain hard-bargained compromises untenable, and is using immigration as a pretext.

  19. TomG says:

    I’m sure someone notified the Climate to be patient since there will be somewhat of a delay regarding a political decision?

  20. The Wonderer says:

    It’s hard for me to consider someone a supporter of climate legislation, when their support is dependent on the month in which the bill is rolled out. If it’s important in April, it will be more important in November. Yes, the excuse for dropping suport is lame, and one that, now obviously, was bound to come anyway.

    And if certain people aren’t going to support Democrats to continue down a path to change our energy policies, who is the alternative? I just can’t think of one.

  21. max says:

    Reading Graham’s letter here does not do much for my opinion of Graham. It doesn’t improve my opinion of the Senate as an institution, either. I expect these people to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Graham’s letter does read, to my ear anyway, as though he had been looking for an excuse to walk away all along.

  22. Charlie says:

    I don’t pretend to understand the politics of this, but clearly there’s more here than meets the eye. Graham’s bailing out looks very suspect. I’m sure he’s been under tremendous pressure from the leadership to bail. Looking at the Republicans track record in recent months, I think it’s pretty dubious that Obama could alter the impulse of the Republicans to blow everything up that might benefit Democrats. Did McConnell take Graham aside and say, “Look, if the Dems do immigration it’s going to hurt us badly in November. Can we count on you to help us out? We really need you on this.”

    [JR: But Graham has been WORKING on immigration with Dems, too. This was all about timing. Graham was serious about energy/climate. Not sure WH was. We’ll find out soon.]

  23. Mary says:

    Two things seem to driving today’s politics:
    1) William Gheen at the South Carolina tea party rally called out Graham and basically accused Graham of being gay (evidently that makes his working with the Democrats suspect). Or perhaps, he’s accused of being gay because he works with Democrats. Nevertheless, the most extreme radical right has been using “gay” as their code-word of evil incarnate. And Gheen has put Graham on notice that those who believe the spilling blood of traitors is acceptable have marked him as one of the traitors. (

    2) The Arizona law which is designed to make anyone of Latino complexion a suspect instead makes Hispanic Americans see red because it is a truly despicable law that results in labelling anyone who “looks like an illegal immigrant” criminals.

    Both of these factors coming together make it extremely problematic for getting “bipartisan” support for a climate change bill. I suspect that Graham’s reason for bailing is more due to the threat from the right than the immigration focus — he is an extremely vulnerable target from the rabid right for who he is and for whom he talks with. Too bad the fate of the planet has to take second place to the insane threats he’s facing.

    And I don’t know how Obama can not forcefully address the blatant attack on our country’s democratic values and the millions of people who will be terrorized by this insane and tyrannical law.

    Nevertheless, we know that climate change legislation must be signed before November – and it would be better if there was some Republican support. A smart, effective bill still should be possible even if Graham can’t help or if he can only help when things have settled down. Well, perhaps the support should come from Schwareneggar who is definitely green but also less beholden and less frightened by the Tea Party movement.

    [JR: Not my view. No Graham, no bill. Simple as that. Graham seriously wanted an energy/climate bill. Apparently — and I say apparently because there is still time to fix this — the White House didn’t.]

  24. toby says:

    It seems that Arizona’s racist Immigration Law has brought this to a head.

    There clearly has to be a national response. For Democrats, the immigration would rouse their Hispanic base and cost the Republicans votes in November, already looking difficult for the Dems.

    Obama somehow has to steer a course through the mess. IF he could get a climate bill before November, he would put Immigration on hold until December, and make it and financial reform key issues for his re-election drive.

    In the end, I am not a US citizen, and I know how much the world needs the US to take the lead on climate change. So I am hoping Obama will get Graham back on board. I know from reading other blogs that Rahm Emanuel has invested a lot of his political capital in keeping Graham on side. But there is also the pressing needs of everyday politics. It needs the skills of a Lincoln or an FDR – Health Care showed that Obama has formidable political skills – now he is again being tested.

  25. E. Swanson says:

    As one who has studied Global Warming (aka: Climate Change) for more than 30 years, I think that humanity must fact the problem and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. However, from what I’ve been able to learn about previous proposals for cap-and-trade, I think it’s a bad idea. That’s because I also know about Peak Oil and expect that the price of oil will shoot thru the roof, once the Peak becomes obvious to all and world production begins an inexorable decline.

    Cap-and-Trade will result in increased costs to the consumer, costs which can be expected to increase as the cap is tightened. The excessive consumer will still be a purchase all the oil he/she wants, bidding the price up so high that the rest of the population won’t be able to buy enough gas to keep their old SUV (now cheap) running. Cap-and-trade will hit the consumer like a tax and the political fallout will be massive.

    I submit that there is a better approach. That is a program of direct rationing to the consumer, along with a white market to trade allocations. Some fraction of the total amount allocated would be placed in the white market for anyone to purchase. The consumer who used less than the allocation would enjoy a direct cash benefit when their allocation was returned to the market, while anyone who wanted more than their share would pay for it at what ever price the market set for their purchase. I would require that the allocations expire after a period of time, perhaps each month, and a new set of allocations be issued for the next period. This would keep the white market operating and prevent hoarding of the allocations. The expired allocations would be returned to the white market, thus one could purchase those allocations the next day with the money paid at the expiration date.

    A rationing system such as I’ve described would not increase the price of fuel to the small consumer beyond the price as found in today’s market system. The consumer would see an immediate benefit from any effort, however small, to reduce consumption. Ultimately, CO2 emissions are the result of the actions of individuals and I believe that only by changing individual actions can this problem be addressed. A rationing system such as I have sketched might just work.

    E. S.

  26. Rick Covert says:


  27. Gary says:

    Good Day….
    The white needs to release the following statement “David
    Axelrod, having the need to address personal matters, will
    step down as President Obamas’ senior advisor.”

  28. Dorothy says:

    Many years ago, I worked for the passage of the Washington State “Seacoast Management Act,” written to protect the state shorelines from over-development and erosion. It was a good bill, but just before the opening of the 1970 legislative session, it was grabbed by the pro-development folks at the Department of Natural Resources and stripped of everything but clauses to subvert the Lake Chelan State Supreme decision on public access to the shorelines. I had to kill my own bill. Several years later, however, the State enacted the Shorelines Management Act, a far better bill.

    There’s a moral to this little story. Today, we have pending the Senate climate bill, which as written, would prohibit the EPA from developing its own greenhouse gas rules.

    There are many other provisions of this bill that are at least questionable, but this provision, by itself, would do enormous harm.

    Maybe Graham is doing us all a favor. We deserve, need and should demand a far better piece of legislation to reduce GHG emissions as much and as fast as necessary.

  29. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Congress should be able to do two things at once. Republicans have big risks in blindly opposing immigration reform. Sen. Graham can’t boycott climate/energy legislation forever if he really cares about it.

    Things may look very different after a hot summer and growing awareness this is going to be the warmest year ever. With a weakening El Nino plus hot Atlantic this could be a bad US hurricane season. The new satellite that measures polar ice thickness trends is about to start reporting measurements of polar ice volume trends that will likely be pretty alarming. Other reality-based Republicans (hopefully not an oxymoron) besides Graham may recognize the need for action.

  30. Alan Gregory says:

    Politics triumphs again. To our elected leadership: Do what is right for the planet, not what may or may not be the most profitable for campaign contributors.

  31. desmoinesdem says:

    Here’s the problem with your argument: “Obama cannot possibly be a successful president from a historical perspective if he doesn’t have a domestic climate bill, since that would essentially doom the chance for an international climate deal.”

    You seem to suggest that any bill is better than nothing, [snip]

    [JR: Feel free to post your opinions or links to actual facts, but don’t come here and mischaracterize what I have clearly written. I have spelled out in detail the criteria by which I judge climate bills. Everything I know about this one says it would meet the overwhelming majority of those criteria, among the most important of which is to enable a global climate deal.

    I might add, passing no bill guarantees failure.]

  32. RoySV says:

    Who would expect any Republican to actually honor a commitment. It just doesn’t happen. Grahams’ phone support simply expired it’s time interval and he took a convenient excuse to hide his dishonesty. Really. If you care about preserving the climate you don’t walk away over a scheduling issue. Total Bull. Maybe in the case the Administration and Obama actually know something we outsiders don’t. Anyway Graham “walking away” is no surprise at all it is standard GOP practice. Obama has big majorities, he as the EPA and all the other executive agencies, he has the bully pulpit. Now: does he have the resolve to use his advantages?

    [JR: Not how I see it. Graham was consistent and could have walked away months ago without taking the big hits he took in SC.]

  33. Joe P. says:

    I still think this is Graham being overrun by events. The burnt oil platform’s stub is now leaking 42,000 gal/day, up from 1,000 yesterday. I think he’s realized either Nelson or LeMieux, the Florida senators, are not going to stomach the offshore drilling parts of the deal. Perhaps one of them told him they intend to use the spill to get a deal-breaking amendment through.

  34. Chris Dudley says:

    Joe #33,

    There is a chance that someone wrote gallons when they meant barrels and the two estimates are the same.

  35. prokaryote says:

    Time is running out …

  36. prokaryote says:

    Comparison of 2010 Temperature to the Two Other Years with the Warmest Annual Means

  37. Chris Dudley says:

    Eric (#25),

    Actually, we don’t need to do all that much rationing right now to get the price of oil way down so everyone would save quite a lot of money as well. Give Saudi Arabia 6 million barrels a day of spare capacity and the world oil price collapses. They are more than half way there now I think. Once they are damaging their infrastructure by keeping it out of production, they’ll sell at any price.

  38. Sasparilla says:

    This is truly disheartening, I can’t believe we’re on the knife edge of loosing it like this.

    My personal opinion is that Sen Graham has been genuinely working for this (if he didn’t want to take the punches for doing this he wouldn’t have gone this far) – but he can see if the Dems do something that makes it impossible for him to get the bill across the finish line successfully – he’s not going to sacrifice himself for a guaranteed failure. JMHO.

    Those yo-yo’s in Washington better get their priorities strait (get the climate bill through, then handle immigration) or we’ll blow our chance (by Monday) for the rest of this year and with more Republicans on the way with the next elections, it’ll be game over.

    As oil goes through the roof over the next several years trying to pass a bill like this will get harder, not easier (with or without more Republicans).

  39. Do people here honestly believe that any legislation passed in Washington D.C. is going to matter to the fate of the planetary climate? To me this is laughable arrogance, and I’m not a denier of climate change. Get a grip folks, Gaia just isn’t that interested in documents signed by a few buffoons in D.C. This isn’t a feel-good story of activism triumphing over evil obstructionists; this is a story of epochal natural changes that dwarf any political process or human industrial civilization. If you want to be taken more seriously, listen to people like James Lovelock, stop trying to “save the planet,” and have a little humility before nature.

  40. prokaryote says:

    If you blame Graham you have to blame the hall political system.
    Change and in particular system updates, normaly this takes harsh meassures. Hope is over rated. Optimism is the lack of knowledge.

    Do you expect the people change suddently? They do what they do and learned – specialy aged humans. And nature will teach them a lesson with billions of death and profound changes to the human civilization.

    Carl Anheuser: After he called a press conference, he WAS! What did you think was going to happen? Did you think the world was going to hold hands and sing “Koom-bay-yah”? Get yourself seated.

  41. JN says:

    @Toby at 24,
    Even if the energy bill passes, it is really not going to help the US ” lead the world ” on climate change. In my opinion, 4% below 1990 levels only brings America “less far behind” everyone else. Nonethelss, a USA bill is critical for progress at Cancun. (I am Indian)

  42. Start Loving says:

    Joe, GET A GRIP! You are my hero. This headline is bull sh*t!!!! “I am bound to be true; I am not bound to succeed.” Abe Lincoln (my paraphrase) quoted recently by Pr. Obama. It is NOT his job to do what God alone could do. It is NOT his job to make up for YOUR FAILURE, and mine in raising the political capital. GET A GRIP. We can’t afford to lose you. Your brother, Start

  43. David B. Benson says:

    Congress should establish strong caps on greenhouse-gas emissions, incentivize energy efficiency, and increase investments in renewable energy devolpment. — Peter DeFazio, U.S. Representative from (southwest) Oregon, who voted against H.R. 2454 as opposed to cap-and-trade which he holds as harmful for the (Pacific) Northwest. He opines that no substantive climate change bill will pass this year. He favors EPA regulation in the interim.

  44. James Newberry says:

    Maybe it would be politically difficult to promote off-shore oil drilling in the senate bill (and nukes on Chernobyl’s anniversary) while people are dying from oil and coal mining and an environmental disaster is unfolding in the gulf. The rig inferno sank on Earth Day. Happy Environmental Disaster Day. God bless the United States of Disaster/Dysfunction. Corruption-R-US.

    The climate is only getting warmed up (literally and figuritively). If we don’t trash Louisiana with oil the climate reponse to our behavior will. I’m sure money laundered by the bank bailout from the Treasury that went to Switzerland that went to Transocean that went to that rig had nothing to do with disaster. We’re addicted after all with oil subsidies and more to come. So let’s go nuclear and spread some fissile materials (for bombs) to save ourselves. Meanwhile the clathrates and permafrost are starting to outgas like our economy. The “climate bill” and future are cancelled. Just saying.

  45. Bob G. says:

    I totally agree with Joe on this one. This is a leadership moment for Obama. This is our chance for a climate bill, not after the midterms. The fate of the world is not an issue to play politics with. What can we do as climate activists to call loudly and quickly for the Obama Administration and Sen. Reid to commit to taking up climate before immigration and to get this thing back on track? Any suggestions?

  46. evnow says:

    This is utter nonsense. We can’t cook the planet because of archiac senate rules.

    Time to go nuclear. Change the cloture rules and make that a simple majority. Thats how modern democracies work.

  47. Bob G. says:

    I’m not talking about fantasy. Let’s deal with reality. The filibuster is not going away. This is the most progressive Congress we’ll have. We need to pass the bill now. We need Republican support to pass a climate bill. Passing a bill is imperative to set us on a long-term track to reduce carbon emissions big-time. So let’s do the doable and necessary. Let’s move climate ahead of immigration, regain Graham’s support, build off the momemtum from health care and financial reform and pass a bill. At this juncture we need to push Obama to act.

  48. Roger says:

    Hey, Obama, lead the nation, push for climate legislation!

  49. substanti8 says:

    This is a President who gathered a record amount of corporate donations in 2008, and now repeatedly speaks about the importance of maintaining continual growth – even to an Earth Day rally.  Some of us saw through the myth of “hope and change” a long time ago.

  50. Chris Dudley says:

    Unless the oil spill in the Gulf can be stopped quickly, it will be worse than the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. There is some hope that the unit on the ocean floor that was meant to prevent a blowout can still be used to close the well. If that fails, and secondary wells need to be drilled, months would be needed to complete that work. If it is four months, then at the current rate of the spill the total amount will exceed 100,000 barrels of oil, a high estimate for the size of the Santa Barbara spill.

    When Graham has already won concessions on oil drilling and nuclear power without delivering any legislation, quiting while he is ahead when he’s gotten a bad hand seems smart. If the President reverses on offshore drilling, Graham has got a flipflop issue he cans use.

    Joe is putting this on the White House, but I’d do so in a different manner. Making concessions on nukes and oil were blunders with VT Yankee and many other nuclear plants leaking and now this oil spill. Environmental disasters are inevitable with these desperation-type technologies. Now, the President owns the disasters just as he is responsible for lax oversight of coal mines.

    The President’s efforts at good faith with Graham were bad faith with the nation and now he must pay the consequences of reversal as Graham pulls out.

  51. Doug Gibson says:

    To Bob @ 47: the filibuster certainly could go away: many progressives see this as a crucial issue over the next year, and intend to pressure the Senate to reform the rules at the beginning of the next session. If environmentalists jumped on the bandwagon (and Democrats retain their majority) we could have a very different situation starting in 2011.

  52. Chris Dudley says:


    Is anything over three paragraphs sent to moderation?

    [JR: I don’t think so.]

  53. Chris Dudley says:

    Joe in #52,

    Maybe with more text there is a greater chance of hitting some strange rule. I remember the word o p o r t u n i t y causing a very bizarre behavior.

  54. The Wonderer says:

    Rather than assigning blame and turning against the White House, I view this turn of events as a wakeup call and an opportunity for global warming issue advocates to better prepare the base, and to pave the way for our politicians to effect real change. Protesting on the Mall is all well and good, but is time for those with the passion and those with the resources (James Cameron and his ilk), to step to the plate and send a message. There could be no stronger message than to pick off an obstructionist Senator or Congressman in the fall election, and to replace that person with someone who will strongly promote policy change.

    Does this movement have the wherewithal to make such a change happen?

  55. prokaryote says:

    James Hansen proposed People’s Climate Stewardship Act and EarthDay remarks.

    Apr. 25, 2010: Earth Day on the Mall and People’s Climate Stewardship Act. Remarks on Earth Day and a proposed Fee-and-Dividend bill

    The remarks that I made at the Earth Day gathering on the Mall in Washington include discussion of a proposed fee-and-dividend bill, with the fee rising at essentially the rate proposed by Congressman Larson. One hundred percent of the revenue collected would be distributed to the public, so that families can afford the energy they need during the transition to a clean energy future.

  56. substanti8 says:


    Some comments get delayed indefinitely, so I’m still wondering what it takes to get comments through moderation in a timely way.

  57. Dana says:

    This is a stunningly bad move from the White House. Climate has to be a priority. Conventional wisdom is that it has to go up for a vote by early summer or it gets too close to the November elections and won’t be able to pass.

    Immigration reform? Who cares? Put it on the backburner. What’s the sense in making it a priority ahead of the climate and energy bill? That makes no sense whatsoever. Even before Graham stepped away from negotiations, just diverting focus from the energy and climate bill is a bad move by itself.

  58. Mike #22 says:

    Climate Wire has a round up on the situation. CP is quoted on page two.

    What Friedman said, “Lindsey Graham is completely isolated on the Republican side; I think he freaked out a little bit here in the end”, is an understatement. The Tea Partiers have Graham pincered on two issues–immigrants and gays. That has got to be scary. The White House needs to provide all the support it can. And in my opinion, Graham needs to be willing to do the right things here even if that means he gets hurt.

  59. Rick Covert says:


    “Bloody hell,” as my Britt cohorts would say! I was looking forward to this weak bill that, yes, coddles the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries, is light on emissions reductions because most of the carbon credits are given away and it uses “rip-offsets” but as that line from The Ten Commandments goes, “Yes, perhaps you are the lovely dust from which the lord will do his will,” so yeah I’m disappointed but not down. There’s still time to pull this off.

    I agree with you Joe. Graham seemed to be serious about this but it has been the Obama administration that has not paid enough attention to this bill in the same way that it did with health care reform. Well, the table is set, the orchestra engaged and now its time to see of the Obama administration will dance.

  60. johna says:

    When the campaigning Obama said climate change was his #2 policy priority, it sounded real.
    Sadly, he’s yet to show that it won’t always be his 2nd priority, behind whatever is in vogue that week.

  61. JMG says:

    I know I’m coming in late, but I work in South Carolina on climate, with Lindsey Graham being a major focus for me and my constituency.

    Graham wanted a climate/energy bill. He put himself out there with extreme personal risk, working to educate his constituents and raise support for an energy bill. He also wants immigration reform, but I have a hard time accepting that he walked because he wasn’t serious about the bill. Harry Reid wasn’t serious about the bill, if you ask me. Perhaps President Obama isn’t, either. I understand the political practicalities – if we work on immigration now, and it helps keeps the Dems in power through 2012, and we a climate bill in 2011, I’m OK with it.

    If this doesn’t happen, then everyone advocating for global warming solutions needs to take a long look in the mirror and ask ourselves why there is not a broad movement across the country. We can help create a movement, if we play our cards right. I don’t think we have been.