On April 26, after months of development and two days before Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were set to reveal their tripartisan American Power Act (K-G-L), Senator Graham abruptly announced that he would be "unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time," [See WIMS 4/2/10]. Graham said he was upset that the Senate and Administration might make immigration reform a priority over energy and climate legislation.
In their joint statement, the two Senators said, "We appreciate Senator Graham's [R-SC] statement [see below] of his continued commitment to passing comprehensive energy independence legislation. Over the past several months we have worked with Senator Graham and he has made a significant contribution to construct balanced legislation that will make our country energy independent, create jobs and curb pollution. Senator Graham has been our partner in building a broad-based coalition of support for legislation that can pass the Senate this year.
"Over the last three weeks, we all understand Lindsey has been busy with the immigration issue and we understand his feelings on that issue, but during this period we've continued working, moving forward, and talking in great detail with our Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and with the environmental and business communities. We've continued to work with the Senate leadership and the White House, and we believe we've made new progress on the path to 60 votes.
"We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment. Our optimism is bolstered because there is a growing and unprecedented bi-partisan coalition from the business, national security, faith and environmental communities that supports our legislation and is energized to work hard and get it passed. We look forward to rolling-out the legislation next Wednesday and passing the legislation with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and Independents this year."
Senator Graham also released a lengthy statement today (May 7) on cap-and-trade, offshore drilling, and future prospects of energy reform legislation. In his statement Senator Graham says the House-passed cap and trade bill is "dead"; that the Gulf oil spill does not improve the chances for passing a climate-energy bill; he's in favor of expanded offshore drilling; and he doesn't believe their are 60 votes to pass a bill. The following is his entire statement:
On the Death of Cap-and-Trade: "The House-passed cap and trade bill is dead. It has been replaced by a new model that focuses on energy independence, job creation and cleaner air. I appreciate the work of Senators Kerry and Lieberman who have been good allies in trying to move this debate in a new, more productive direction. I am particularly proud of the efforts we have made in creating a renaissance in nuclear power which leads to energy security and fosters job creation. As I have previously indicated, a serious debate on energy legislation is significantly compromised with the cynical politics of comprehensive immigration reform hanging over the Senate. In addition to immigration, we now have to deal with a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which creates new policy and political challenges not envisioned in our original discussions. In light of this, I believe it would be wise to pause the process and reassess where we stand."
On Offshore Drilling and Gulf Coast Disaster: "Some believe the oil spill has enhanced the chances energy legislation will succeed. I do not share their view. Our original legislation included an expansion of off shore drilling with revenue sharing. It doesn't take long for one to conclude that opposition to expanded offshore drilling with revenue sharing has grown among certain Senate Democrats. Some have even declared energy legislation "dead on arrival" if it contains an expansion of offshore drilling. I respect their position and I know they are sincere in their beliefs. However, I have come to a different conclusion on the issue and strongly believe that in order to become energy independent we must include these options.
"When it comes to getting 60 votes for legislation that includes additional oil and gas drilling with revenue sharing, the climb has gotten steeper because of the oil spill. I remain committed to safely expanding offshore drilling because I know oil will be part of our nation's energy plan for years to come. Every barrel we can find in the United States is one less we have to import from OPEC. And today, some of the dollars we spend on imported oil find their way into the hands of terrorists who wish to harm our nation. As a Senator from a coastal state, and in light of the historic oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, I think it makes sense to find out what happened, enact safety measures to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future, and then build consensus for the expanded offshore drilling our nation needs."
Future Prospects for Energy Legislation: "When it comes to our nation's policy on energy independence and pollution control, I don't believe any American finds the status quo acceptable. Many senators from both parties have stated that Congress should set energy and carbon pollution policy, not the EPA. I could not agree more. Therefore, we should move forward in a reasoned, thoughtful manner and in a political climate which gives us the best chance at success. Regrettably, in my view, this has become impossible in the current environment. I believe there could be more than 60 votes for this bipartisan concept in the future. But there are not nearly 60 votes today and I do not see them materializing until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill."