Graham floats ‘clean energy’ standard as climate talks continue

Graham is trying to craft a compromise climate and energy bill with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said Graham’s work on the “clean energy” bill began before his collaboration with Kerry and Lieberman got underway.

Kerry and Lieberman have Graham's draft bill but have not agreed to its inclusion in the broader legislation the trio is trying to craft, said Bishop, who added that Graham’s draft was written last October. The publication Greenwire first reported on Graham’s draft earlier this afternoon.

Democrats, environmentalists and the renewable power industry have for years pushed for a renewable electricity standard (RES) for utilities.

The big energy and climate bill the House approved last year includes an RES, and so does broad energy legislation the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved last June.

But the idea faces widespread resistance among Republicans. Some Democrats from southeastern states are also skeptical, fearing their region lacks enough renewable resources.

Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) – who was chairman of the Energy Committee and then ranking member when Democrats regained the majority – floated a “clean energy” standard in 2007.

Democrats – including current Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) – have resisted broadening their proposals to include nuclear and coal.

But Kerry and others have also signaled that they are prepared to make concessions to win mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan that Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are preparing is expected to include major increases in loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, expanded offshore drilling and other proposals aimed at winning support from Republicans and centrist Democrats.