Sen. Lindsey Graham, who worked for months on legislation to cap carbon emissions, is backing an alternative aimed at curbing
greenhouse-gas emissions through incentives for energy conservation.
The new bill, offered Wednesday by Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, would require new homes, businesses and
appliances to use less energy, encourage states and utilities to adopt more renewable power and provide incentives for building
nuclear reactors and retiring coal-fired power plants.
The Senate will take up “comprehensive clean-energy” legislation next month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
a Nevada Democrat, has said, without setting out the provisions. Graham in April dropped support of a measure he helped develop
calling for a “cap-and-trade” system to limit carbon emissions and create a market in pollution allowances, starting
“The carrot-stick approach is the basis of cap-and- trade,” Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said at a news
conference Wednesday where he endorsed Lugar’s measure. “This is a carrot-stick approach, but there are more carrots
Lugar’s bill may be able to muster the 60 votes needed for Senate passage because it wouldn’t cap emissions or
expand offshore drilling, two controversial issues in the Senate, Graham said.
Graham had worked with Senators John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, to develop
the earlier measure. He dropped his support after Democrats began talking of taking up legislation on immigration first. He
later said the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico made it impossible to pass that effort at a compromise, which included
plans for more offshore exploration.
Lugar said his legislation would cost $3.75 billion over five years, reduce dependence on foreign oil by more than 40 percent
and decrease national energy consumption by 11 percent by 2030.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu commended Lugar’s efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on oil and increase energy efficiency
while faulting the measure’s failure to incorporate carbon limits.
“We need comprehensive legislation that puts a price on carbon and makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy,”
Chu said in a letter today to the senator.
The legislation would “fail to cut global warming emissions to the level scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst
of consequences of climate change,” the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacy group based in Cambridge,
Mass., said in a statement.
The bill was called an “amnesty for big polluters” by Frank O’Donnell, president of the Washington, D.C.-based
environmental group Clean Air Watch. He said the measure would let utilities avoid certain requirements of the Clean Air Act.