Gulf spill now pretext for climate bill obstruction

US Senators Joe Lieberman (L), I-CT, and Linds...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

In the worsening midst of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, Sen. Lindsey Graham said last night that the climate bill he helped author does not allow enough new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s why he won’t support it.

The South Carolina Republican told Reuters last night that the bill’s other two sponsors, Democrat John Kerry and Independent Joe Lieberman, had “greatly compromised” the bill’s original plans to expand offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf.

“You’ll never get my vote,” he said, without more allowances for fossil fuel extraction.

Graham was once described as the bill’s lone Republican vote, but that label dissolved throughout the first half of the year as he withdrew support for the bill three times between the announcement of his sponsorship and the release of the bill May 12.

His intermittent support was nonetheless more Republican support than a prior climate bill had enjoyed. It passed the Environment and Public Works Committee over a Republican boycott but did not have enough support to reach the Senate floor.

It was in return for the support of Graham, Lieberman, and conservative Democrats that President Obama made his portentous decision in late March to allow an expansion of offshore oil drilling. The Deepwater Horizon accident occurred three weeks later, on April 20.

The Kerry-Lieberman bill also includes concessions to the nuclear and coal industries that Kerry traded for enough conservative votes to pass the Senate.

The climate bill would create a carbon trading market designed to shift the U.S. economy off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy sources. The bill would strive to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020–the meager promise Obama offered the world in Copenhagen–and up to 83 percent by 2050.

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