Aides to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., said they plan to introduce their bill Monday regardless of whether Graham remains part of their group, which has been developing a bipartisan approach to a climate bill, The Washington Post reported. Graham's departure could undercut the bill's chance of passage.
"I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy," Graham said in a letter to his two colleagues. "Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success."
Graham accused Democrats of engaging in a "cynical political ploy."
Some environmentalists had predicted the cap-and-trade bill had a good chance of passage with bipartisan credentials and substantial business support. While the bill's goal is to cut carbon emissions 17 percent in a decade, it contains sweeteners for industry such as a four-year grace period for manufacturing and for heavy users of energy.
The bill also provides for off-shore drilling and includes $10 billion in coal industry assistance to capture carbon emissions and incentives to build 12 nuclear power plants.
"Because of the broad-based industry support that I expect the bill will garner, both at the rollout as well as beyond, I think this is the best path forward," Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund said.
Kerry said Thursday the bill has support from the Edison Institute and at least three of the five biggest U.S. oil companies.
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