Is Lindsey Graham Wavering on His Climate Change Commitment?

There is one person in the "Party of No" who has been saying "Yes" on climate and energy legislation--Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Graham has been working with Sens. Kerry and Lieberman on a climate bill but today he said something very troubling to the NY Times: "What is dead is some massive cap-and-trade system that regulates carbon in a fashion that drives up energy costs." Oh boy. If Graham jumps ship you can put a fork in the chances of passing meaningful climate legislation in 2010. But later in the day, Graham backed off his earlier comments and released the following statement:

"The energy legislation that was passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is not strong enough to lead us to energy independence. The climate change legislation passed by the House of Representatives and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is too onerous on business and does not enjoy bipartisan support.

"My goal is to continue working with Senators Kerry, Lieberman and my Senate colleagues to create a new pathway forward that focuses on a more robust energy security package and a more business-friendly climate legislation.

"I am committed to finding a new way forward as I believe energy security is a short and long-term job creator for our country. Clean air is a shared value by both parties and all Americans. I remain hopeful after discussing this matter with conservation groups, businesses, and Senate colleagues we can be successful this year."

Friends of the Earth is skeptical of Graham and current legislation. They released the following statement after Graham put his out:

"The energy and climate bill that passed the House last summer was one of the biggest pieces of corporate welfare ever to be considered by Congress, with $170 billion in giveaways to polluting industries. Big oil, dirty coal, corporate agribusiness -- they all got a piece of the pie. The notion that the bill was onerous on business is laughable. Some of the worst polluters helped write the blueprint the bill was based on.

"Now these greedy corporations are angling for more, and Senator Graham is out to help them. This is special interest politics at its worst, and it is truly appalling. No wonder so many people are turned off by the ways of Washington.

"What's needed is a bill that is less friendly to corporate polluters, not more. Congress should pass a bill that eliminates offsets and other loopholes, goes further to create clean energy jobs, and is more aggressive about reducing the carbon pollution that threatens our economy."

Senate Majority Leader Reid has said that he wants a vote on cap and trade this spring. With support from President and Graham a vote might just happen, but beating a filibuster is no certainty. Stay tuned.

More on Lindsey Graham:
Sen. Graham Censured for Climate Stance : TreeHugger
Senate Climate Bill Gets Bipartisan Support : TreeHugger