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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 4, 2010 with no responses

GOP Sen. Graham Attacks ‘Half-Assed’ Energy Bill, Breathes New Life Into Obama Carbon Plan

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Graham calls the talk of an energy-only bill without any carbon legislation “half-assed.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says that he won't go along with a "kick the can down the road approach” to the energy bill.

Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, expressed his dismay at the idea that Congress should do an energy-only bill. He wants comprehensive carbon pollution legislation to be a part of any energy bill, because, as he sees it, the two issues are connected.

“I don’t think you’ll ever have energy independence the way I want it until you start dealing with carbon pollution and pricing carbon,” Graham told the audience. “The two are connected in my view—very much connected. The money to be made in solving the carbon pollution problem can only happen when you price carbon in my view.”

“So if the approach is to try to pass some half-assed energy bill and say that is moving the ball down the road, forget it with me.”

Graham’s pledge to work with his peers from across the aisle in support of carbon regulation may breathe life into the Democrats plan that was on life support after Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to the Senate, handing Republicans the precious 41st seat needed in order to block much of the Democrats agenda.

Obama all but conceded in a town hall meeting this week that greenhouse gas pricing legislation was not likely to pass. “The only thing I would say about it is this: We may be able to separate these things out,” Obama said. “And it’s conceivable that that’s where the Senate ends up. But the concept of incentivizing clean energy so that it’s the cheaper, more effective kind of energy is one that is proven to work and is actually a market-based approach.”

Indeed, after hearing of Graham’s remarks, Obama was quick to heap praise on the Senator. He said that Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Graham are “very thoughtful in terms of how they’re approaching this issue.”

But the senator is also having to deal with criticism from his own party and legislators from his home state who are against any sort of plan to tax carbon. He responded harshly to critics who say that he’s selling out. “They don’t listen to what I’m saying,” Graham said. “They just know that I’m working with Senator Kerry, and they don’t like it because they don’t like him.”

This isn’t the first time either that Graham has faced the ire of his Republican colleagues due to him veering from the party line. His close work with the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy on immigration reform caused much bickering between him and the more conservative members of his party.

The plan is to have liberals agree to more domestic energy development, which would include the construction of new nuclear power plants; offshore oil and gas drilling; using more coal, but in a cleaner manner; to go along with wind and solar, in exchange for assistance from Republicans and moderate Democrats in passing carbon legislation.

Graham also expressed dismay at what he sees as nuclear power being placed in the backseat. “82 percent of power in France comes from where? Nuclear. Surely we can be as bold as the French.”

“Trust me, you cannot be serious about cleaning up the environment unless you are serious about nuclear power. You cannot replace coal-fired plants with wind and solar—it’s 15 percent of the grid at most.”