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GOP Senators uniting around alternative climate bill

June 9, 2010


In a move that threatens Democratic efforts to advance a climate change bill, two influential Senate Republicans are throwing their support behind competing legislation unveiled Wednesday by Richard G. Lugar , R-Ind.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the point person on energy matters in her caucus, signaled her support Wednesday.  “I talked to him very briefly at lunch yesterday and I’m looking forward to supporting it,” she said.
Additionally, Lugar’s office said South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham would join him at a Wednesday press conference on the bill, which Lugar dubs as the “practical energy and climate plan.” It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a host of energy efficiency provisions and expanded federal support for nuclear power.
The support of Murkowski and Graham for the emerging GOP proposal is a blow to Democrats, who continue to struggle to court Republicans votes for a cap-and-trade climate change measure.
Murkowski — along with Energy Chairman Jeff Bingaman , D-N.M. — played a central role in shaping a comprehensive energy bill approved by the Energy committee last summer. That bill may be the starting point for legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada wants to take to the floor next month.
Graham spent months negotiating an energy and climate change bill with Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry and Connecticut independent Joseph I. Lieberman before walking away from the talks over a dispute about unrelated immigration legislation. Kerry and Lieberman are angling for their bill to be included in the Democrats’ plan.
According to a summary, Lugar’s bill is designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent by 2030, through steps including tighter federal fuel economy standards and incentives for the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles. It would establish benchmarks for an increasing amount of electricity to be generated from low-carbon sources, including renewables and nuclear power.
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