The ranking Republican on the Senate's energy committee on Saturday signaled she could vote for a revised version of Democrats' forthcoming cap-and-trade bill.

In an interview to air Sunday on C-SPAN, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) explained she would "keep her mind open" during debate over the hotly contested carbon-reduction proposal, a version of which has already passed the House. The Alaska Republican also suggested she could vote for the final bill if it expands domestic oil drilling and better funds nuclear power.

"When you see changes to the land coming about ... what is causing the loss of the sea ice that adds to the erosion issues, yes, in Alaska we are seeing change," Murkowski told C-SPAN. "That's why I have been one of those Republicans who has stepped out front a little bit more on the issue of climate change."

Murkowski's stated interest in working with Democrats on cap-and-trade legislation is good news to the majority party, which failed to court more than a handful of House Republicans to vote for their carbon-reduction measure earlier this year. Ultimately, scoring a key Senate Republican's early commitment to a compromise could help Democratic leaders shore up more GOP support as their bill progresses through Congress.

But Murkowski is not the only prominent Republican recently to signal a willingness to negotiate the details of cap-and-trade with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the Senate bill's chief sponsor.

Already, the majority party has scored preliminary support of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who stressed last week in an op-ed he co-authored with Kerry that the two lawmakers "have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution."

"Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence," they wrote. "It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate."