Key Senators Mildly Positive About Climate Bill

For a long time, the biggest complaint about the Senate climate and energy package was that no one had seen it. With a 978-page discussion draft hot off the presses, at least one criticism is off the table. And while it’s too soon to know who plans to vote for the bill, there have been some early, positive remarks from key senators.

Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Republican who was working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on the legislation up until a few weeks ago, kept the door to a yes-vote slightly open:

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve upon these concepts and find a pathway forward on energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment. We should move forward in a reasoned, thoughtful manner and in a political climate which gives us the best chance at success. The problems created by the historic oil spill in the Gulf, along with the uncertainty of immigration politics, have made it extremely difficult for transformational legislation in the area of energy and climate to garner bipartisan support at this time.

Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), an opponent of offshore drilling who yesterday afternoon fired off an irate Tweet about the bill’s rumored drilling provisions, appears to be satisfied by the actual draft:

I’m glad the climate bill includes my proposal for a moratorium on any new drilling, until we know what happened aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Also, they had their eye on expanding drilling into new areas of the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, and I told them to stay out of it. And I’m glad they listened.

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been agitating for the Senate to vote on his energy-only bill rather than pushing through a bill with a cap on carbon this year. Although this draft includes a cap, he at least appears open to it:

I appreciate the time and effort that Senators Kerry and Lieberman have put into crafting this discussion draft and will offer them and Majority Leader Reid my constructive comments and suggestions as I review it.

And Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), leader of a bloc of industrial state Democrats who outlined a number of demands for manufacturing, also seems upbeat though he said he still wants more protections for manufacturing:

We need an energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and addresses the serious threat of climate change. I applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for advancing this issue. Done right, a clean energy bill will also be a jobs bill.

… We must do more to ensure that it promotes the competitiveness of American manufacturers, and provides more assistance to the consumers, industries, and states that would be most affected by the bill. As energy legislation moves forward in the Senate, I plan on working on these issues and ensuring that Ohio manufacturers can build the clean energy products that can be sold around the world.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.