By Paul Alongi, The Greenville News
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina broke ranks with Republicans on Sunday, announcing that he is working with a Democratic colleague on climate change legislation.
Graham co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts that said they believe they have found a “framework for climate legislation” that can pass Congress, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary.
The senators warned that if Congress doesn’t act, the Obama administration will use the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations that would likely be tougher and lack job protections.
Graham and Kerry called for an “aggressive” reduction of carbon gases, financial incentives for “clean coal,” a streamlined permit process for nuclear power plants and a border tax on items produced in countries that don’t accept environmental standards.
They would minimize the impact on major emitters through a “market-based system” that would give them time to comply with carbon-gas reductions.
The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce threw its support behind Graham, saying his leadership on climate change is critical for success.
Chamber President Frank Knapp Jr. warned that rising sea levels due to global warming could hurt the state’s tourism industry, destroying beaches and barrier islands.
He said that EPA action would result in higher energy costs without the benefits of investments and regulatory changes protecting jobs.