Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to discuss clean energy legislation. During the interview, Graham warned his party that it will fall into irrelevancy if it continues to embrace climate change deniers:
I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value. These young people grew up with recycling and a sensitivity to the environment — and the world will be better off for it. They are not brainwashed. … From a Republican point of view, we should buy into it and embrace it and not belittle them. You can have a genuine debate about the science of climate change, but when you say that those who believe it are buying a hoax and are wacky people you are putting at risk your party’s future with younger people.
It’s a hopeful sign that at least one leading Senate Republican is acknowledging the fact that Americans want clean energy reform. According to the Benenson Strategy Group, 58 percent of voters in 16 battleground states support a cap-and-trade bill like the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act that invests in clean, renewable energy sources. The same poll shows that Americans desire regulation of carbon polluters so much that 59 percent of voters believe the Environmental Protection Agency should act on the issue if Congress does not.