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Gamechanger? Kerry-Graham Op-Ed Supports Climate Energy Legislation

September 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

lindseyTalk about a potential breakthrough. A day after Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham appealed for “a legitimate bipartisan effort” to pass a climate and energy bill, their joint call for progress on the New York Times op-ed page appears to have shifted the political landscape in Washington.

“We refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change,” the senators wrote. “We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.”

The op-ed comes amidst a succession of political events in Washington over the last week that may have tilted momentum in favor of a strong climate and energy bill. Tomorrow the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming holds a hearing to release the results of its investigation of the dozen or so faked letters sent last June to House lawmakers by the oil industry to sway opposition to the climate and energy bill. The hearing will take testimony from some of the people involved in the campaign to deliberately mislead lawmakers. Staff members from the organizations victimized by the letters are also expected to testify.

Earlier this month prominent members resigned or rebuked the leadership of the US Chamber of Commerce over that group’s  opposition to climate action. Late last week a group of business executives met with top administration officials and called on the president to lead on solving global warming.

Joe Romm, editor of Climate Progress, and influential environmental leaders, among them Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council, hailed the Kerry-Graham statement as a “game changer.” Grist magazine’s writers and editors were uncharacteristically giddy about the prospects for enacting a comprehensive climate and energy bill.

Meanwhile, conservative commentators slammed Graham’s commitment to climate action and clean energy. Among those decrying the new Kerry-Graham partnership was columnist Michelle Malkin. “God save us from bipartisanship,” she wrote.

Last summer, days after the House of Representatives approved its version of the bill, Sen. Kerry told a group of climate activists that he and Democratic California Senator Barbara Boxer were actively engaged in lobbying Republican and Democratic colleagues to support climate and clean energy legislation. He noted that both he and Senator Boxer were confident they could convince a handful of Republicans to support the measure and that the bill would pass the Senate before negotiators met in Copenhagen in December. “It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be close,” said Sen. Kerry. “But we’re going to get a bill.”

Reactions follow:

Dan Lashof, NRDC
“Game Changer: Kerry-Graham Op Ed Dramatically Enhances Prospects for Senate Climate Bill this Year …. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this joint declaration. It ensures that the Senate bill will be bipartisan. It demonstrates that there is a pathway to 60 votes to overcome a filibuster…”

Joe Romm, Climate Progress
“The odds of a Senate climate bill just jumped through the roof”

Joe Romm, Climate Progress
“Their bipartisan partnership now makes a comprehensive climate and energy bill likely.”

“7 reasons for optimism about Senate climate bill …. 1. Key Republican support is already in place, as Sen. Lindsey Graham takes to The New York Times editorial page with John Kerry to offer full-throated support for passing clean energy legislation this year”

Representative Jay Inslee – Grist
“The dynamic is in our direction. All the relevant pressures are breaking our way. The resignations from the Chamber of Commerce, the increasingly clear science, the signs of bipartisanship emerging in the Senate, the increasingly clear picture that we need a new horizon for job creation to pull us out of the recession, the emergence of clean energy leadership in the business community from Detroit in electric autos, to the southwest in solar thermal technologies, to the Midwest in a host of new manufacturing opportunities, all point to a real chance for success this congress.”

“It’ll be interesting to see to what extent Graham really does team with the Democrats on a climate change bill — and whether he brings any other GOPers to the table with him. If he does, there really may be, as the senators wrote, “a road to 60 votes in the Senate.””

Huffington Post
“The first public break on the Republican side with the “just say no” strategy that’s been pounded home by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a way to weaken President Obama and the Democrats”

Huffington Post
“Today, Graham made a deal all but inevitable.” – Frances Beinecke
“The New York Times op-ed written by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator John Kerry calling for clean energy and climate legislation transformed the debate from “maybe some time in the next year or two,” to “likely this fall.”
Sunday’s op-ed by Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, represents a breakthrough toward securing Republican endorsement.”

Get Energy Smart! NOW!!!
“Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, and Senator John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, have joined forces in what might be one of the most important single opinion pieces published in a newspaper so far in 2009. Published in The New York Times, Yes, We Can (Pass Climate Legislation), provides an indication of a ‘bipartisan’ path toward significant climate legislation.”

The Hill
“The pairing of Democrat John Kerry and Republican Lindsey Graham on global warming, even if only to pen an op-ed column and not actual legislation, is a step forward for the climate bill.”

Critical Reactions:

Michelle Malkin
“God save us from bipartisanship.”

Freedom Action, blog from Competitive Enterprise Institute

“It is a fantasy designed to get the support of Senator Graham and other fuzzy-minded Senators with visions of lots of new nuclear plants, billions for technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, less dependence on imported oil, and tariffs to protect American manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries.”

“For most conservatives, cap-and-trade policy still presents a cherished opportunity to cudgel Democrats and win back seats in Congress; and there’s no telling what sort of pressure will be put on Graham and other Republicans to abandon a bipartisan effort and return to the safety of their party. Despite recent polls showing that more Americans support progressive climate-change policy than Republicans and conservative Democrats may think, it is still—to borrow Kerry and Graham’s phrase—“conventional wisdom” that the Senate bill will not pass.”

Huffington Post
Tea Party activists attack Sen. Graham at South Carolina meeting.



One Response to “Gamechanger? Kerry-Graham Op-Ed Supports Climate Energy Legislation”
  1. Diksha says:

    The U.S. Senate must fight back against old pllouting industries and pass a strong clean-energy and jobs bill that will boost the economy, switch to renewable sources like wind and solar, and help fight global warming.New Mexico is a great place to invest in alternative energy sources. We have significant solar, wind and geothermal resources. New Mexico also has significant clean-burning natural gas which can be used to replace dirty coal-fired sources of electricity and should be used to fuel vehicles instead of gasoline and diesel as an interim step to developing greater and more efficient alternative energy sources.Natural gas, when used to replace oil based energy can have very beneficial effects on the economy of the USA by lowering energy costs, improving America’s balance of payments, reducing the risks of international instability as well as cleaning up the environment.COAL IS THE NUMBER ONE OFFENDER. You should introduce legislation which will place significant tax penalties on coal fired plants along with federal subsidies to convert existing coal fired plants to natural gas.You should introduce legislation to establish natural gas refueling pumps at all fuel stops along the Interdtate Highway system. This way truckers and consumers will know that they can convert from diesel to natural gas vehicles without worrying about whether they will be able to refuel. Natural gas used as vehicle fuel, as an interim step to solar, wind and geothermal sources, should not be taxed. This will provide additional incentive to switch from gasoline/diesel fuel.A strong bill must ensure that we meet emission-reduction targets by reducing global-warming pollution from old, dirty power plants and by driving renewable-energy development and energy-efficiency improvements. This legislation must also protect consumers, natural resources, and vulnerable communities here and around the world.I urge you to help pass comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation next year to jump-start the clean-energy economy our country needs.