Updated: Sen. Graham Walks Away From Climate Bill Over Immigration

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photo via Senatus

Yesterday, Treehugger detailed Sen. Lindsey Graham's threat to walk away from the climate and energy legislation he had been working on with Sens. Kerry and Lieberman over the rumored decision to prioritize immigration reform over climate and energy. His threat now has real world consequences: the legislation, which was scheduled to be unveiled tomorrow, is now indefinitely postponed, dashing the hopes that a climate bill would pass this year.Graham wrote to his colleagues:

"I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success...Moving forward on immigration -- in this hurried, panicked manner -- is nothing more than a cynical political ploy."

Kerry responded by delaying the bill's introduction, saying:

"Lindsey Graham [and] Joe Lieberman ... all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach. We believe that we had reached such an agreement and were excited to announce it on Monday, but regrettably external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily."

An Opportunity?
The delay can be viewed as opportunity in at least two ways. The Green groups can now get to work behind the scene and rally their members to strengthen what many feared will be a weak bill. The bill is expected to set a short-term target of 17 percent emissions reductions from 2005 levels by 2020. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that developed countries reduce their emissions by 25-40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020.

President Obama can also take the additional time to rally Americans behind the cause and to strong arm legislators into supporting comprehensive climate and energy reform. In Copenhagen, Obama committed the US to the emissions cuts in the bill, making its passage a must to maintain his credibility in the international community.

More on the Senate Bill:
Senators Announce "Half-Assed" Energy Reform Bill
Details of New Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Energy Reform Bill Leaked