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Will Any Republicans Join Democrats in Holding BP Accountable?

7:00 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

Steve Benen and Greg Sargent have been making an important point lately that hasn’t yet received the attention it deserves: to the extent that Republicans intend to oppose efforts to hold BP accountable this summer and fall, they are extremely vulnerable politically.

Here’s Benen first, commenting on Republican confusion over just what lengths they should go to in their defense of big oil companies:

It’s no doubt tricky — the GOP has been allied with oil companies for years — and considering the party’s rhetoric of late, I’m not sure Republicans have decided exactly what point(s) they want to emphasize.

But politically, it’s worth keeping an eye on a potential trend — if Republicans position themselves as the party looking out for BP and the oil industry’s interests, there may be political consequences.

And here’s Sargent, commenting on John Boehner’s confusion on the issue:

His announcement amounts to a tacit acknowledgment that public rage at BP, and the public’s desire that lawmakers hold the company accountable, have left Republicans little maneuvering room. In other words, the insistence on holding BP fully accountable is, and will continue to be, a very potent political issue for Dems.

I was especially pleased to see Politico — which typically doesn’t make smart observations about political situations in which Republicans are vulnerable — pick up on this dynamic yesterday:

Republicans are now struggling with how to show appropriate outrage at Big Oil while sticking to their long-standing pro-drilling, pro-oil-company policies.

I agree with everything above. The situation presents each party with a unique opportunity.

Read the rest of this entry →

No Shortage of Blame to Go Around for the Demise of Climate Legislation

6:50 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

I’ve been on the offensive against Senator Graham for the past two days, expressing frustration with his mind-boggling hypocrisy and wholly apparent lack of integrity. I believe his participation in the crafting of climate change legislation was completely disingenuous, and I don’t think he ever actually intended to see it through to completion. His rhetoric throughout the process has been anything but helpful, and it was becoming apparent by mid-March that he was looking for an excuse to bail on the effort, blaming superficial process concerns for his lack of resolve. And as it turned out, that is exactly what happened yesterday. If Democrats have an ounce of sense they’ll never again take anything Senator Graham says at face value.

Now, that doesn’t at all mean that Harry Reid doesn’t share the blame for the Senate’s failure to address the issue this year. Those who blame Senator Reid for his decision to prioritize immigration reform over the climate bill make a number of good points. Senator Reid’s decision does in fact appear to be, as Senator Graham put it, a cynical political ploy designed to shore up his chances to maintain his seat this November. So yes, I think Senator Reid’s decision, which may have been implicitly backed by the Obama administration, was a plainly political move that played no small part in how all of this unfolded.

But that does not at all mean that Senator Graham has no agency in this. David Roberts writes:

It looks like an ass-covering decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is about to scuttle efforts to bring a climate/energy bill to the floor this year.

How exactly is Senator Reid responsible for Senator Graham’s decision to reverse course? That decision was Senator Graham’s alone, regardless of how he frames it or who he tries to pin the blame on. Even after rumors began circulating that immigration was being prioritized over climate, Senator Kerry indicated that he still intended to move forward with his bill. And indeed, if Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had introduced their bill on Monday and managed to cobble together 60 votes, Harry Reid would have brought it to the floor for a vote. I’m quite certain of that. Yes, Senator Reid hurt the cause by making a foolish and politically selfish decision. But Senator Graham was the one who put the nail in the coffin, and he probably would have come up with some other excuse to do so if this hadn’t come along.

Moving on, I’m baffled by Jon Chait’s truly strange argument that Graham is actually in the right here. He writes:

As for bad faith, Graham is a Republican Senator from South Carolina. His highest risk of losing his seat, by far, comes from the prospect of a conservative primary challenger. Indeed, I’d say that prospect is far from remote, and Graham is displaying an unusual willingness to risk his political future. He has little incentive to negotiate on these issues except that he believes it’s the right thing to do. So when Democrats put climate change on the backburner to take up immigration, and do so for obviously political reasons, Graham has every right to be angry. He’s risking his political life to address a vital issue, and Harry Reid is looking to save his seat.

Both of the bolded sections above seem to ignore who Senator Graham is and what he is about. On the claim that Graham’s motivation for working on this bill was entirely pure, I’d love to see some substantiation. Graham may have been working on the bill in order to weaken it at every step in the process, in a role similar to the one Chuck Grassley played as the health care bill moved through the Senate Finance Committee. And indeed, that is what he has been doing throughout the process, all the while taking every opportunity to stick his thumb in the eye of environmentalists, as insult to injury. Republicans frequently pretend to be interested in working on an issue in a bipartisan manner when they are actually just trying to weaken or derail it. This is not a new tactic, and Democrats are going to have to stop falling for it eventually. Or perhaps Senator Graham was trying to bolster his image as somewhat of a maverick who would love to pass bipartisan bills if it weren’t for those hyper-partisan Democrats. As David Dayen notes, this is classic Lindsey Graham:

I think Graham was dying for a reason to kill these bills where he was the “sensible Republican moderate” on them. This has been his pose for some time, to show to Washington that he’s willing to work across the aisle, but to never actually do it.

Based on how this has played out, either of those two scenarios seems far more likely to have been Graham’s motivation than that he simply ‘believes its the right thing to do.’

On Chait’s other point, that Graham ‘has every right to be angry,’ I agree, but with a caveat. Graham would have found an excuse to throw a fit and bail on the effort regardless. Whether it was the use of reconciliation on unrelated legislation, the Constitutionality of healthcare reform, or some other perceived slight, it was becoming pretty clear that Graham was searching for an excuse to take his ball and go home. Graham was going to throw a tantrum no matter what. Harry Reid just made it easier for him by making a selfish blunder at the worst possible moment.

Is Senator Kerry’s Staff Misleading Constituents About the Climate Bill?

6:30 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

In addition to brewing fights over offshore drilling revenues and a host of other issues, the conflict over whether or not federal climate legislation should pre-empt the Clean Air Act continues to heat up. As it stands, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. A variety of Senators, ranging from Rockefeller on the Democratic side, to Murkowski (R – Big Oil) on the Republican side, initiated unsuccessful efforts earlier this year to take this authority away.

As part of the grand compromise being crafted by Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman, rumors have been circulating that this authority will be taken away, effectively weakening the strongest environmental law on the books. As recently as earlier this week Senator Graham indicated that the bill would include such a provision.

Several Senators, including 10 industrial-state Democrats as well as Voinovich (R-OH) have indicated that taking this step to weaken the Clean Air Act is necessary for them to support the bill. These Senators are at odds with most environmentalists, who maintain that EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, while not a perfect tool, should be maintained as a backstop regardless. Both the Sierra Club and 1Sky have made it clear that they will oppose any climate legislation that prevents the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the context for the latest grassroots action campaign initiated by CREDO. Seeking clarity on how Senator Kerry plans to deal with this disagreement, CREDO has generated over 700 phone calls to the Senator, asking where he stands. Here is the relevant part of the script callers are using:

The Clean Air Act should not be compromised, rolled back or used as a bargaining chip as part of any deal to bring energy or climate change legislation to the floor of the Senate. Sen. Kerry has long been an environmental champion but he is putting his legacy at risk.

Will Senator Kerry protect the Clean Air Act authority and fight any effort to roll back the Clean Air Act in congress?

CREDO then asked activists who called to let them know how Senator Kerry’s staff responded. CREDO has provided EnviroKnow with a sampling of how activists reported staff responses to this question. Their responses largely indicated that Senator Kerry will not be compromising the Clean Air Act in order to reach a deal on climate legislation. Here are some highlights:

Staffer says there is "no truth to the rumor" that Kerry is poised to compromise.Asked if Senator Kerry supported the clean air act. Person replied, "He’s doing just that" and hung up.

Claims Sen Kerry is trying to strengthen, not weaken, the Clean Air Act.

His aide said "Sen. Kerry wouldn’t do that!" When I said I didn’t want him to use the CAA as a bargaining chip…

I just spoke to one of Senator Kerry’s aides who flatly denied that Sen. Kerry is trying to compromise the Clean Air Act, indeed, he say the senator is trying to strengthen it.

Man who answered says we’re jumping the gun. Says bill has not been released yet and won’t be until Monday. Says Kerry would never do anything to weaken the Clean Air Act.

Person answering phone claims he will not compromise Clean Air Act.

Staffer said Kerry is a big supporter of the environment and he will absolutely not allow the Clean Air Act to be weakened!

Strong statement Kerry will not under any circumstances consider any suggestion to weaken the Clean Air Act or to limit the EPA’s powers under it.

It seems pretty unequivocal: Senator Kerry is not willing to compromise the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. It should be interesting to see how other Senators react to this when the draft language is released on Monday.

There are Reasons to be Pessimistic about Climate Legislation

9:30 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

Maggie Fox of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection has an opinion piece in Politico in which she repeatedly laments the pessimism many have expressed that the Senate will finally take action on climate change legislation this year:

Even before the Senate starts debating clean energy and climate legislation, the professional pessimists are saying it will never happen.

Now the action moves to the Senate. That’s why Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is determined to move legislation forward. And it’s why senators from both sides of the aisle are advancing proposals that can make this the year that the president signs comprehensive climate legislation into law.

Yet the professional pessimists tell a different story.

She goes on to imply that this is driven largely by ‘those who reap benefits from the status quo:’

Those who reap benefits from the status quo are funding a stream of negative forecasting and denials of climate change science. But despite this well-financed effort to block progress, we are closer than ever to some real solutions.

There is some truth to this, but it also glosses over the fact that many of us who would very much like to see the Senate pass climate legislation this year — and follow this sort of thing pretty closely — are also pessimistic of the chances.

A few examples from the past week:

Steve Benen:

As much as I want this bill to pass, and know that we won’t see an opportunity like this again for quite a while, I’m finding it difficult to be optimistic. For one thing, Republicans will be under enormous pressure from their party to oppose any and all climate-related efforts, and they tend to buckle when the heat is on. For another, there’s no guarantee that Midwestern Dems will stick with their party on this, either.And complicating matters further, if the Senate manages to pass a bill, the House leadership may struggle to put together another majority to seal the deal.

Thers at Eschaton:

There really is a very narrow legislative window for the US to do anything constructive about climate change. If I had to bet, I would bet on the window closing and our illustrious Senators and Representatives doing jack shit about this most pressing issue: Glad to be wrong.

Ezra Klein:

Color me skeptical. I think the right wing is just too committed to the idea that taxes are always and everywhere bad (even if they’re rebated) and that global warming is a hoax Al Gore dreamed up to annoy SUV drivers.

I’m not trying to pick on Maggie Fox or the Alliance here, and I understand the need for advocacy organizations to put on their best game face in advance of the big fight. I just think it is important for folks to understand that there are legitimate reasons to be pessimistic about our prospects this year.

So at this point, less than a week in advance of the rollout of the bill, I’m with those those who see reason to be pessimistic: the math just doesn’t look good. I’ll have more on this in the coming days, but the basic situation is that you lose at least five Democratic votes and only have one reasonably certain Republican vote in Senator Graham. So you need to weaken the bill enough to pick up another four Republicans or so, without losing any additional Democratic votes in the process. Now, horse-trading like this in advance of a big vote is customary in Washington. But on this issue, at this time, I’m beginning to think the much-discussed ‘sweet spot’ might not exist.

Here are just a few of the land mines Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have to watch out for as they try to cobble together 60 votes:

It is by no means impossible, and through some combination of giveaways to industry and arm twisting they may just get it done this year, but I don’t believe it will happen. Steven Pearlstein gives it a 50% chance and Senator Begich says 60%, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, as of now at least, the chance of passing climate legislation in the Senate and getting it reconciled with the House this year are no more than 25%.

Dems More Trusted on Energy than Any Other Issue, Continue Pursuing Polluter-Friendly GOP Ideas

12:09 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

In new polling focused primarily on healthcare, WaPo-ABC asked the following question:

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling (ITEM)?

Here are the results:

Democrats Republicans
The Economy 44 36
Health Care 47 34
Immigration Issues 38 35
The Situation in Afghanistan 43 33
The Federal Budget Deficit 43 35
Taxes 41 39
The U.S. Campaign Against Terrorism 37 43
Energy Policy 49 32

It looks like despite the tea parties, the stimulus, the media’s obsession with process and the so-called ‘government takeover of health care,’ Democrats are still more trusted than Republicans on seven of eight top issues.

Of particular interest, Democrats hold the widest trust advantage (17%) on energy policy, followed by health care (13%), Afghanistan (10%) and the economy (8%). This finding echoes the results of recent Pew polling, which found that clean energy and mass transit investments are far more popular among the American public than nuclear investments and expanded offshore drilling. All of this strikes me as a pretty strong indictment of the Republican approach to energy policy, given the miles of separation between the parties on the issue. While Democrats support investing in clean energy technologies and implementing a strategy to reduce global warming pollution, most Republicans oppose such a strategy and are increasingly confused about the science. At the same time, beltway prognosticators continue celebrating the death of comprehensive climate legislation, despite its consistent popularity.

In light of the huge trust and polling advantage Democrats hold on the issue, you would expect them to forge ahead on their popular policy proposals despite Republican opposition. But that is not how things have played out over the past six months. In November, Democrats moved a bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee despite unprecedented obstructionism and unanimous Republican opposition. By the time the bill was passed through committee though, Democrats had already decided to scrap that bill, opting instead to place their hopes in a tri-partisan approach led by Senators Kerry (D), Graham (R) and Lieberman (I).

What followed has amounted to a months-long campaign of lowered expectations and concessions to industry. Senator Graham has taken every opportunity possible to downplay a comprehensive approach and emphasize how far from previous Democratic proposals the forthcoming legislation would be. In February, President Obama played up pro-polluter ideas favored by Republicans in his State of the Union address. Rather than negotiating with Republican Senators, Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman actually resorted to working with climate change denying industry groups to craft legislation that might attract 60 votes.

The idea behind all of this movement toward a more Republican friendly (read: less effective) approach to addressing climate/energy policy is that if the bill is polluter-friendly enough, it may be able to attract 60 votes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working. Senator Collins, who is widely considered one of the more ‘gettable’ Republicans on the issue, continues suggesting Senator Kerry’s efforts be bypassed. And Senator Graham, when he isn’t using disingenuous process complaints to downplay expectations, made it clear on Sunday that he has no interest in being the 60th vote for a climate bill. As of this writing, no Republicans other than Graham have expressed serious support for the effort.

Meanwhile, all of these efforts to attract industry and Republican support are weakening enthusiasm for the effort on the left. Tellingly, when President Obama made the case for increased investments in nuclear power and expanded offshore drilling, Move On found it to be the least popular part of his SOTU, among their liberal membership.

Over the past 10 days, a variety environmentalist groups and liberal Senators have begun to publicly criticize the yet-to-be-released legislation as it takes shape. Here are a few examples:

  • 10 coastal state Senators sent a letter last week to Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman, warning that they can not support legislation that greatly expands offshore oil and gas drilling.
  • Environmental group 1Sky is imploring Senators Kerry and Reid: Don’t let big polluters rewrite the Clean Air Act.
  • Senator Sanders sent a letter Friday to Senator Kerry, citing serious concerns about a variety of polluter-friendly provisions.
  • Erich Pica, President of environmental group Friends of the Earth, told Greenwire, "We’re worried they’re the first ones in the room to get a briefing."
  • Mike Brune, the new Executive Director of mainstream environmental group the Sierra Club, expressed a variety of concerns last week: "We will go to the mat for defending Clean Air Act authority. We are also concerned about offshore oil drilling, and we will not be able to accept the dramatic giveaway that offshore oil drilling represents."

Senator Lieberman last week brushed off concerns that the bill may lose support from the left, saying "In the end this will be one of those cases where everybody will be a little unhappy." The groups and Senators listed above seem more than a little unhappy to me.

Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman would be wise to keep an eye on their left flank. Weakening the legislation in an attempt to gain industry/republican support will cost them the support of some liberal Senators and environmental groups. And it may do so without even winning them the support of an equal number of conservative Senators. Worse yet, given the new polling showing that Democrats are more trusted than Republicans on energy policy, further concessions to Republicans would likely weaken support for the bill among the American public. Democrats should be emboldened by this polling data, and should take it as a sign that crafting polluter-friendly policies to try to gain the support of Republicans is a losing strategy, both in terms of policy and politics.

Originally published at EnviroKnow.

Is Senator Graham Looking for an Excuse to Bail on Climate Legislation?

5:28 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

Kate Sheppard asks if the passage of health care legislation will hurt or hinder progress on climate legislation. But the underlying question is whether or not Senator Graham is looking for an excuse to bail on climate negotiations. The answer to that question might just be yes. His rhetoric hints at the possibility, and he’s willing to distort the truth about reconciliation without hesitation while huffing and puffing that it leaves him no choice but to bail on unrelated legislation. If Senator Graham does end up using the passage of health care reform as an excuse to give up on climate talks, his lack of integrity will be readily apparent for all to witness.

First, some back story.

Last week this National Journal article ($) made me worry:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the lone Republican working with Democrats on both immigration and climate change legislation, might walk away from talks on those issues if Senate Democrats use budget reconciliation to pass changes to their healthcare bill in a deal with the House, according to Graham and a leadership aide….

A Senate GOP aide said it was too early to begin worrying that a deal will be struck on a climate bill that would put a price on industrial carbon emissions. But at the same time, aides said stakeholders should consider the impact reconciliation will have on climate legislation and the possibility that the midterm elections could yield more business-friendly Republicans in Congress.

"They should definitely realize there’s not a lot of good reasons to cut a rash deal at this point," a Republican aide said. "I think they’re going to have a very hard time convincing any Republicans, particularly with reconciliation hanging over their head. It seems like, to me, from a business perspective, they should consider that."

But since it was National Journal quoting an anonymous Republican aide, I didn’t place much weight in it. Was that a mistake? Could Senator Graham really take such offense to reconciliation that he would scuttle climate talks over it?

Senator Graham emerged last fall as a leading Republican in negotiations on clean energy and climate legislation. While he wasn’t ready to support the Boxer-Kerry bill on the table, he expressed confidence in "a pathway forward … that makes us more energy independent, creates sound environmental policy, promotes job creation and frees our nation from dependency on foreign oil." In the months that followed, as he was attacked by South Carolina Republicans over and over again, he continued making the case for clean energy. In early January, responding to being censured by a local county Republican party, he shot back: "I do believe in finding common ground to solve hard problems." As recently as the end of January he was still "committed to finding a new path forward."

But in late February, the rhetoric took a turn for the worse:

In a private meeting with several environmental leaders on Wednesday, according to participants, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), declared, "Cap-and-trade is dead."

Then on the March 7th edition of Face the Nation, Graham said (PDF):

We’ve had reconciliation votes but all of them had received bipartisan support, the least was twelve when we did reconciliation with tax cuts. So it is taking a partisan product and making it law.

It isn’t clear whether he was being disingenuous or was just mistaken, but his statement was factually incorrect. Graham was apparently referring to the 2001 tax cuts. But as the Sunlight Foundation has documented, Bush’s 2003 tax cuts were passed through reconciliation on a hyperpartisan 50-50 vote. Whether he was being disingenuous or not, those were harsh words, and they are not encouraging for those of us who have worried all along about the Senator’s ability to negotiate in good-faith.

Graham’s most disturbing comments about reconciliation came on Sunday on ABC’s This Week:

"If they do this, it’s going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter."

He continued:

"I’ve been working with Lieberman and Kerry, we’ve come a long way on the climate and energy issue," Graham said. "This is one issue where the president has been great. He’s saying all the right things to give us a chance to become energy independent, clean up the air and create jobs. But when it comes to health care, he’s been tone deaf, he’s been arrogant, and they’re pushing a legislative proposal and a way to do that legislative proposal that’s going to destroy the ability of this country to work together for a very long time. And that’s not necessary."

Jeromy Symons gets this exactly right:

"Senators shouldn’t squander this opportunity for real energy reform because they are angry on other topics," he said. "Think where our nation would be if Congress called it quits every time parties fight over one issue. Nothing would ever get done."

Senator Kerry remains confident in Senator Graham’s interest in proceeding, citing earlier statements the Republican Senator has made. But Senator Graham says a lot of things.

Ezra calls it an empty threat, quipping that "if Graham doesn’t think the well is already poisoned, then I dare him to take a sip from it." But it isn’t clear to me that Senator Graham is above using this as an excuse to back out of climate negotiations. While talking a relatively good talk most of the time, he’s been working behind the scenes to weaken the legislation as much as possible. And by the looks of things he’s had significant success on that front.

I can’t help but note that Senator Graham initially became interested in climate legislation because of his mentor John McCain. McCain, of course, has long since bailed on climate discussions for plainly political reasons.

Bailing now offers Senator Graham an easy opportunity to accommodate his increasingly anti-science base by pulling the football on the gullible democrats once again.

On Monday Graham warned reporters that the draft legislation he is developing with Senators Kerry and Lieberman may not be public until mid-April. If all goes according to plan, health care reform will be the law of the land by then.

When Democrats pass health care legislation in the next few days, Senator Graham will have a potentially career-defining decision to make. He can take the easy route, the predictable path, by joining Republicans in an orchestrated tantrum and an attempt to completely shut down the government. Or he can do what he knows is right and continue working for clean energy legislation that will create jobs, reduce pollution and improve our national security. We’re going to find out what Senator Graham is made of very soon.

Originally published at EnviroKnow.

Another Local Republican Party Attacks Senator Graham for His Moderate Stance on Climate Change

9:26 am in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

Senator Lindsay Graham’s willingness to work with Senator Kerry on climate change legislation has drawn the ire of many South Carolina Republicans. In November, the Charleston County GOP censured Graham with a climate change denying rant. Days later, the Berkelely County South Carolina GOP considered doing the same thing, before temporarily tabling the measure.

Last night, the Lexington County South Carolina Republican Party joined the fun. The Los Angeles Times Reports:

Republican leaders in a South Carolina county known as a GOP stronghold have voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham for working with Democrats on immigration and climate change.

It’s the second time since November that Republicans in a South Carolina county have voted to censure the GOP senator.

Lexington County Republican Party Chairman Rich Bolen said Tuesday the county’s executive committee voted 13-7 to rebuke Graham following more than an hour of debate late Monday.

Here are the relevant parts of the Lexington County GOP’s censure resolution:

Whereas, S.S. Senator Lindsey Graham through his support of a cap and trade bill, reiterates his support for government intervention in the private sector in direct contradiction of the Republican principle of free markets, as stated by the Republican
party platform;

Therefore, let it be resolved that the Lexington County Republican Party Executive Committee must regretfully censure U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and is grieved to respectfully request that the South Carolina Republican Party rescind the 2009 resolution commending U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, for his positions do not reflect a complete
belief in the South Carolina Republican party platform and do not serve the interests of South Carolinians.

In November, I noted the consequences of these types of developments:

The Republican party is quickly becoming a caricature of itself, purging anyone who isn’t a hateful, ignorant science-hater. While it is good for Democrats politically, it is a largely negative development for the discourse and the country as a whole. It is hard to have a reasonable and intelligent debate when one of the two major political parties is completely unreasonable.

This assessment — which is backed up by the increasing likelihood that the Republican party will nominate a climate change denier in 2012 — remains valid. Further indications that the GOP will continue shifting to the right on climate policy include the evolution of Senator McCain’s position due to a primary challenge and several recent polls showing a sharp uptick in climate change denial among Republican voters.

So what makes Senator Graham different? A few factors come to mind:

1. He is not up for reelection until 2014.

2. He is a strong supporter of nuclear energy, and will likely be able to demand massive subsidies in exchange for his support.

3. He rightly considers climate change a national security issue, and in addition to serving on the Armed Services Committee in both the House and the Senate, he served in the United States Air Force prior to entering politics.

4. Graham has always been a bit of a maverick, frequently showing willingness to reject the party line:

In recent years Graham has developed a reputation as an independent dealmaker. In 2005 he joined with 13 moderates to block then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from destroying the filibuster in a fight over judicial nominees. In 2006 and 2007 he braved another censure – this one from Greenville County – to work with Ted Kennedy on immigration reform, telling incensed South Carolinians that they’re "bigots."

What else am I missing? Why is Senator Graham an outlier in the Republican party on climate change legislation?

Turning Up the Pressure on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

2:39 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

The hits keep coming for the embattled United States Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday, I wrote about the Chamber’s overwhelming hypocrisy on climate legislation:

While the Chamber claims it “continues to support Federal climate legislation”, it is actually continuing its 17-year old campaign against it. Representative Ed Markey on Thursday issued a point-by-point explanation of how his legislation, which the House passed in June, meets all of the Chamber’s criteria for successful legislation. Energy Secretary Chu even took a few shots on Thursday as well, but the ever-defiant chamber remains unrepentant.

This follows an unprecedented string of public relations disasters that have left the Chamber grasping for straws.

Pete Altman at NRDC is keeping track of the fallout over the last few weeks regarding the Chamber’s climate change extremism:

Quit US Chamber over climate: Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co.

Quit US Chamber Board over climate: Nike.

Say Chamber doesn’t represent their views on climate: Johnson&Johnson, General Electric, San Jose Chamber of Commerce, Alcoa, Duke, Entergy, Microsoft.

It is starting to look like the only actor in the debate over clean energy legislation less credible than the Chamber of Commerce is the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is currently facing investigations for sending 14 fraudulent letters opposing the bill to members of Congress.

In the last few weeks a diverse group of activist, NGO and labor campaigns have launched to escalate the pressure on the Chamber and its member companies. Here is a brief summary of current efforts:

The Natural Resources Defense Council has been leading the fight. In addition to Pete Altman’s prolific coverage of the story as it develops, they have launched a website — whodoesthechamberrepresent.org — to ask the question: “Who Does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Really Represent?” Read the rest of this entry →