Graham floats climate compromise tying in offshore drilling

A climate bill tying regulations on carbon output to more offshore drilling could win support in the Senate, one senator suggested Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he is working on a compromise that would allow for new regulations on carbon-based pollutants in exchange for new permission to explore for oil and gas offshore as well as build new nuclear power plants.

"This administration is not going to allow offshore drilling for oil and gas unless it's part of some bigger deal," Graham said in a conference call with South Carolina reporters. "I don't think you'll ever have offshore drilling for oil and gas until you marry it up with emissions controls."

Graham drew some ire from conservatives for having said earlier this fall that he supports some regulation on emissions in order to address global warming. But while Graham said he's been working with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a principal author of the Senate's version of cap and trade legislation, to forge a compromise, the South Carolina Republican rejected support for the Senate bill, as well as its House counterpart.

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"They don't have 60 votes for environmental policy in the House and the Senate because it's bad for business," he explained. "All of these bills, I couldn't support because they're cap and trade legislation that really does put us at a competitive disadvantage."

The senator argued that his proposal could bring even global warming skeptics on board, though, due to a desire for more oil and gas exploration.

"I firmly believe that if you had offshore drilling provisions, you would get more votes because people would see energy independence being achieved, and they would tolerate an emission control bill," Graham said. "You don't have to believe in climate change to vote for the bill I'm talking about. You just have to believe that controlling carbon is the way to get to energy independence."

The specifics of Graham's plan would allow for "environmentally responsible" offshore drilling, revenues of which would be split between states as well as the federal government, the latter of which would use the revenue to reinvest in clean technology.

Graham was not specific as to how his plan would specifically regulate carbon emissions.