Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been collaborating on a compromise climate change and energy bill, on Friday called for putting the legislation on hold following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The legislation Graham had been writing with Democratic Senator John Kerry and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman contained incentives for expanding offshore oil drilling.
But opposition to such oil production has been stiffening in Congress following the massive oil spill that began two weeks ago in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill started when an oil rig exploded and sank, rupturing the underwater oil well lines.
That disaster, Graham said in a prepared statement, “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.”
Graham’s statement came as Kerry and Lieberman were preparing to unveil, possibly next week, the climate bill they had worked on with him.
Graham said the votes do not exist in the Senate now to pass a climate bill but there could be more than 60 votes for such a measure in the future. He said there would not be enough votes “until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill.”
Nearly two weeks ago, Graham said Democrats were discussing immigration reform legislation prematurely, thus jeopardizing the climate control and energy bill this year. In response, he said he was dropping out of the climate bill effort with Kerry and Lieberman.
Posted by Russell Nemetz