Will Conservative Democrats Follow Graham’s Lead On Climate Policy?

Extensive coverage has been devoted to the fact that Lindsey Graham’s split on global warming and other issues highlights a rift in the Republican Party. While that’s true, another more important development has not been pursued: Graham’s departure from right-wing orthodoxy highlights the potential for conservative Democrats to follow in his footsteps.

Many conservative Democrats have questioned President Obama’s clean energy agenda. Now, a Republican is breaking with his party to talk sense. In a press conference yesterday with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Graham rebuked senators unwilling to address carbon pollution. Saying that he has “seen the effects of a warming planet,” Graham called for the United States to “lead the world rather than follow the world on carbon pollution”:

The green economy is coming. We can either follow or lead. And those countries who follow will pay a price. Those nations who lead in creating the new green economy for the world will make money.

Watch it:

Graham sounded more like Van Jones — the author of “The Green Collar Economy” who was branded by Glenn Beck as a “communist” — than many of his Democratic colleagues:

Max Baucus (D-MT): Montana, with our resource-based agriculture and tourism economies, cannot afford the unmitigated impacts of climate change. But we also cannot afford the unmitigated effects of climate change legislation.

Evan Bayh (D-IN): Jobs should be our top priority and we shouldn’t do anything that detracts from that.

Robert Byrd (D-WV): I will actively oppose any bill that would harm the workers, families, industries, or our resource-based economy in West Virginia.

Byron Dorgan (D-ND): I just don’t think climate change is going to be on the floor this year. Trying to restart our economic engine and trying to get this country back to work — to me that is the most important issue.

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR): I am opposed to the House passed cap-and-trade legislation, which in my view, picks winners and losers and places a disproportionate share of the economic burden on families and businesses in Arkansas.

Claire McCaskill (D-MO): I hope we can fix cap and trade so it doesn’t unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri.

Ben Nelson (D-NE): I think at the end of the day, the people who turn the switch on at home are going to be disadvantaged.

Jim Webb (D-VA): We can’t just start with things like emission standards at a time when we’re at a crisis with the entire national energy policy.

Do these Democrats agree with Lindsey Graham that our planet “is in peril“? Do they agree with Graham that “limiting carbon pollution is good for business”? Will conservative Democrats follow Sen. Graham’s embrace of the “new green economy” — and shouldn’t they be asked if they will?