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GOP maverick could help climate change bill

October 13, 2009
South Carolina's Lindsey Graham has become the GOP's newest Senate maverick. The man who replaced Strom Thurmond in office has discussed legislative compromises with Sen. John Kerry in negotiations on the Senate's climate bill giving Democrats hope that they've found the missing link in defeating a Senate filibuster.

In a New York Times article, Graham credits John McCain for entering him into the climate change debate. McCain's former energy aide works on Graham's staff and the two lawmakers have traveled together to the North Pole, Alaska and Norway in a joint effort to study climate change.

Graham also has a history of crossing party lines, working on immigration with Sen. Ted Kennedy and being one of the first Republicans to support President Obama's choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

With Democrats needing 60 votes to override a Senate fillibuster, Graham is one of 21 fence sitters identified by E&E (click here to see the list) who stand in the way of passing a climate change bill.

From the New York Times:

Lindsey Graham spent his summer testing out lines on global warming.

As the Republican hit the town halls in South Carolina, a state with a major military presence and one of the country's highest unemployment rates, Graham would ask people if they thought climate change was a problem.

Few did.

But Graham quickly followed with another question, asking for a show of hands from those concerned about energy security. The response was strong, and Graham wasted little time making the connection.

"You can't look at it in isolation," Graham said in an interview last week. "I'm trying to say, OK, you're skeptical about global warming, you're worried about the compliance costs, and you think maybe there's not much benefit to the environment. I'm not there, but I respect that.

"What if I took something you agree with, that this country had a lot of resources that need to be explored and extracted, and every barrel of oil that we can find off South Carolina with South Carolina's permission, and natural gas deposits, make us more energy independent?" he added. "What if you married those two things up? And took some of the revenue from oil and gas exploration and put it toward reducing our carbon dependency? I think that's a deal that a lot of people would go for. You don't have to be a true believer of drilling offshore or that climate change is real. You've just got to be willing to give and take."
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