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Breaking: Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman “will be working closely with the White House” to develop separate tripartisan climate bill to get 60 votes — with Reid’s and Boxer’s consent; Graham rebukes fellow Republicans saying, “The green economy is coming!”

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"Breaking: Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman “will be working closely with the White House” to develop separate tripartisan climate bill to get 60 votes — with Reid’s and Boxer’s consent; Graham rebukes fellow Republicans saying, “The green economy is coming!”"

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In a mid-day press conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) that followed a meeting with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said:

We think we have a good team here to help create a dual track which we want to emphasize is done with the full consent and support of Sen. Boxer and of other senators involved in this process including the Majority Leader, Harry Reid.  We will be working very, very closely with the administration and fully respectful of all of the efforts made by each individual committee with jurisdiction in this area. and there are six of them. I happen to be chair of one. But there are five others. And they’re all equally important in their contributions to this.

Our effort is to try to reach out to broaden the base of support beyond the six committees of jurisdiction. And we’re going to do that working very closely with the chairs of those committees as well as with members across the Senate. The key here is to really negotiate once in a sense, not negotiate with ourselves and not negotiate just in the Senate and then not have the White House also at the table.

So we just completed a meeting with Secretary Chu, talking about his department’s parameters that might and might not be acceptable with respect to this legislation. We’re meeting this afternoon, the three of us, with Secretary Salazar and with Carol Browner who, as we all know, is the point person for the White House on this topic. We will be working closely with the White House over the course of the next weeks with a few to trying to pull together what ultimately could be presented to Sen. Reid and the leadership as a piece of legislation that we hope could get the 60 votes necessary to pass or more, and we would hope it would be more.

Brad Johnson at Wonk Room has Graham’s remarkable remarks and this video:

While other Senate Republicans led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) boycott action on the climate crisis, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has chosen a leadership role. In a press conference today 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 Republicans unwilling to address carbon pollution, asking, “If you can’t participate in solving a hard problem, why are you up here?” 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.

Graham’s words recall the testimony of former Center for American Progress Senior Fellow and White House official Van Jones, who told Congress in January, “We can build a green economy Dr. King would be proud of.” Van Jones, the founder of Green for All, left the White House after talk show host Glenn Beck targeted him as an “avowed communist and radical activist.” Beck has warned that efforts to build a green economy are “socialism,” “black nationalism,” and “fascism.”

Sen. Kerry announced that the three senators would work in a “dual track” to the committee process now underway to craft clean energy legislation in concert with the White House, which they hope to present directly to the Senate leadership. The senators conducted the press conference in between meetings with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and White House climate advisor Carol Browner.

Graham also discussed how Americans of any party “really feel uncomfortable with the fact that our nation sends a billion dollars a day overseas to buy foreign oil from some countries who don’t like us very much,” saying that part of “this initiative is to create a vision for energy independence and marry it up with a responsible climate control carbon pollution controls and create a new economy.”

Graham emphasized that his vision is to “help this planet” that “is in peril, create millions of new jobs for Americans that need them, and to become energy independent to make us safer,” because he believes that “controlling carbon pollution is good business.” Although he hoped for participation from his fellow Republicans, he said, “If you believe carbon pollution is not a problem, then you wouldn’t want to work with me, because I do.”

Transcript:

GRAHAM: The reason I’ve gotten involved in this issue is I see kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity politically to solve two real problems that I think the country and the world faces. One, carbon pollution. I am no scientist, but I’ve traveled throughout the world with Sen. McCain and others and seen the effects of a warming planet. And I do believe all of the cars we have on the roads, and the trucks, and all the energy we use that produces carbon daily is not a good thing for the planet.

But if environmental policy is not good business policy, you’ll never get 60 votes. So my goal is to try to make sure that we fashion environmental policy that will create millions of new jobs for Americans who are desiring to have new jobs. Virginia and New Jersey are going to benefit from what we do. South Carolina, Connecticut, and Massachusetts will benefit.

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. The business community senses an opportunity they’ve not had before. That’s why they’re at least exploring the possibility of a new pathway forward.

I’ve been told by a lot of business leaders in South Carolina, “Senator Graham, once you price carbon in a reasonable way, this green economy that we’re hoping for really will begin to flourish.”

The other aspect of why I’m involved is energy independence. Remember “Drill here, drill now”? Where did that go? Four dollar a gallon gas is not in our face but it could be soon. I think most Americans “” Republicans, independents or Democrats “” really feel uncomfortable with the fact that our nation sends a billion dollars a day overseas to buy foreign oil from some countries who don’t like us very much. Part of this initiative is to create a vision for energy independence and marry it up with a responsible climate control carbon pollution controls and create a new economy.

Finally, our country doesn’t have a vision on carbon. We need one. And we need to lead the world rather than follow the world on carbon pollution. Our country doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to build a green economy and never will until we price carbon.

And our country doesn’t have a vision for energy independence. We need one. Our goal is to create that vision that not only will help this planet “” that I think is in peril “” but create millions of new jobs for Americans that need them, and to become energy independent to make us safer.

. . .

What I’ve got to do is convince people in South Carolina and our colleagues up here as a whole that environmental policy will be good business policy. And if Congress doesn’t act, the EPA will.

Every member of Congress, Republicans included, has to answer to themselves and their constituents. Is carbon pollution a problem? If it is, what are you going to do about it? Some Republicans want a carbon tax. In many ways, that is a fairer system but I don’t think there are the votes for it. If you believe carbon pollution is not a problem, then you wouldn’t want to work with me, because I do. Now, if you “¦ a cap-and-trade bill has to be well-crafted not to put us at competitive disadvantage to China and India.

I am convinced with my colleagues that controlling carbon pollution is good business. If you do it right, people can make money and you’ll have a cleaner planet and the world will follow. So I hope my Republican colleagues will at least listen, come to the table as the Chamber has, see where we’re going, give us input and if at the end of the day, you can’t support it, that’s okay.

But last thought. Doing nothing has a consequence. The EPA will do something. Doing nothing has a consequence to our business opportunity in leading the green economy revolution that’s coming and controlling carbon emissions.

So I think most people are upset with the Congress because we’re not doing anything that matters. And the things that we do do we’re overdoing. So we’re trying to get that sweet spot of a bill that will be good for the environment, good for business and make us energy independent.

So my hope is that participation is seen as a positive, not a negative. If you can’t participate in solving a hard problem, why are you up here?

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7 Responses to Breaking: Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman “will be working closely with the White House” to develop separate tripartisan climate bill to get 60 votes — with Reid’s and Boxer’s consent; Graham rebukes fellow Republicans saying, “The green economy is coming!”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    My feeling about Graham is that he is an honest and public spirited Senator. All of my instincts about Senator Lieberman are in the other direction, even though he has been out front on climate in some form for a number of years.

    Clearly, Lieberman is maneuvering to be a power broker, through his earlier demands on behalf of the nuclear industry and God knows who else. He is the wrong person to trust here. Better to cut him off, and see how he likes being the one preventing cloture. If that happens, we may end up with a better bill later, and bring in someone like Lugar who is more reasonable besides.

  2. paulm says:

    One can’t help, but think that the GOP has been infiltrated by al qaeda or the Russians (or is it just greed).

    I mean they have completely lost the plot on making America a progressive and successful nation.

    They have their heads stuck up the tar sands of the world.

  3. Leland Palmer says:

    Good for Graham.

    I’ve always disliked the man, but in his speech he seemed to be telling the honest truth, as he sees it.

    A bill containing a nuclear title, and an expedited permitting process to hold down the cost of nuclear power stations, seems like an OK deal to me. Nuclear does produce a lot of carbon free power.

    What we need, though, is carbon negative power production:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-energy_with_carbon_capture_and_storage

    I believe we ought to seize the coal fired power plants, and force their conversion right now into carbon negative Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) power plants.

    I believe that by using a couple of technologies developed under the Clinton administration and subsequently killed in the U.S. by the Bush Administration, we could increase the efficiency of the converted BECCS power plants enough to compensate for the efficiency losses incurred by CCS. These technologies are oxyfuel combustion and the Indirectly Fired Combined Cycle power plant concept.

    So, nuclear power is OK. Carbon negative bio-energy plus CCS is better, and use of BECCS would be a hugely synergistic solution to the climate problem, which is what we need to head off the apparently rapidly developing positive feedbacks.

    Anyway, good for Graham, good for Lieberman, good for Kerry, and everyone involved in trying to arrive at a compromise.

    One thing that really gives me hope is the EPA’s intent to regulate the roughly 7000 sources of more than 25,000 tons of carbon per year, too. Some of these sources produce 20 million tons of CO2 per year, and anything with this sort of destructive potential should not remain in private hands. Gigawatt size coal fired power plants appear to be more dangerous than thermonuclear weapons, and nothing with this sort of destructive potential should be owned by private individuals, IMO.

  4. Lieberman wants his big nukes like last time. Graham wants his offshore oil.

  5. Sam Scott says:

    Big nukes and offshore oil aren’t necessarily a bad thing if it means:

    A) A renewable energy standard
    B) Lower emissions
    C) An effective carbon pricing mechanism
    D) New incentives for efficiency: retrofitting, weatherizing, etc.

    Remember the Obama slogan: “Make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy”

  6. Given Lieberman’s STELLAR performance during recent health care battles (AKA his attempt at gaining something we have yet to find out about by pointing a knife at the public option, already a compromise from single-payer, the 40% by 2020 of health care), I am extremely nervous about his participation at the outset of this process. Lieberman has proven himself to be extremely politically selfish and cynical- my only hope is that by getting buy-in at the beginning we preempt his later betrayal. But what do we lose by obtaining that buy-in?

  7. Mark L says:

    Re #3 – Leland – “Ive always disliked the man” (Lindsey Graham)

    It’s funny – I think of myself as a progressive, and he’s a Republican -and I don’t know, and maybe would hate to think of, some of his past record – but I always in the past found something personally engaging and even authentic about him. When you look at him, he is a person who seems to be thinking.

    And when in the joint sitting, he famously was Utubed having to stop himself applauding at one point – I thought – that’s a good sign, a good straw in the wind.

    And now this. I was pleased for the world and for him personally.

    What he has done is what we read about in Profiles in Courage. And the speech itself – it hit to me absolutely all the needed bases and dimensions.

    We may well look back one day and say – that was the day the ascendency of obstructionism-first Republicanism began to end and therefore the day America as a whole began finally to unite and really start to carry out its needed great task.

    A magnificent contribution.