By Ben Geman - 04/26/10 06:48 PM EDT
“The U.S. faces a critical moment that will determine whether we will be able to unleash billions in energy investments or remain mired in the economic status quo,” the group said.
Another group, American Businesses for Clean Energy, also urged the Senate to move ahead with the climate plan as soon as possible.
Separately, some of the country’s largest environmental groups issued a joint statement over the weekend after Graham’s decision to at least temporarily withhold support for the climate bill threw the measure into limbo. His threat scuttled the planned Monday unveiling of the bill he’s crafting with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).
“The tireless work of Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman is proof positive that bipartisan success is well within reach. The House has passed historic legislation; now it is time for the Senate and the White House to stay focused and finish the job,” states the joint message from the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and seven other groups.
Elsewhere, the Utility Workers Union of America issued a statement Monday proclaiming itself angered by the delay in rolling out the bill. The group said the legislation would create two million jobs.
“Our 50,000 members, most of whom work every day at the forefront of the carbon-based generation of electricity, are truly angry that once again, partisan politics is delaying important national legislation,” said Mike Langford, the union’s president.
Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are slated to meet Monday evening to discuss the bill as Kerry and Lieberman try and bring their angry colleague back into the fold.
Graham has been a key GOP negotiator on immigration, but alleges that Democratic leaders are moving ahead haphazardly on an immigration plan that he calls an election-year political gambit. He argues that moving to immigration first would make it impossible to advance the energy and climate measure.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday called energy and immigration reform equally vital to the country's economic and national security. He has not made a firm commitment about the sequencing of the measures, but hinted Saturday that a climate and energy package might be closer to the floor than an immigration bill.
“I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress. Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it's ready,” Reid said. “I have also said we will try to pass comprehensive immigration reform. This too will require bipartisan support and significant committee work that has not yet begun.”