Kerry, Graham face balancing act with longshot climate push

“The difficulty with global warming is it’s not simply dividing the pot up like you might with infrastructure,” Sanders continued. “The issue is there is a reality about global warming, and you are going to need a very strong commitment, very strong legislation, in my view, to save this planet.”

Sanders, like several colleagues, said he’s reserving judgment on the plan until he sees it. 

But his remarks highlight the difficulty of crafting a measure that can attract industry and at least some GOP backing while holding on to liberals and environmentalists.

The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman trio is readying to make a host of possible concessions – such as preempting state climate rules, delaying emissions limits for factories and allowing wider oil-and-gas drilling –  to win backing from centrist Democrats, Republicans and various industries for the bill.

They met Wednesday with a broad array of industry trade group officials and shared an outline of their plan.

Thus far the Senate trio seem to be making progress winning buy-in from business groups – or at least warding off some of the heavy industry fire that has helped make House-approved climate legislation a non-starter in the Senate.

But whether the possible concessions in the works will jeopardize the support from big environmental groups that are open to compromise legislation – such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council – remains to be seen.

Kerry is slated to brief top officials from several environmental groups later this afternoon.

Of course what the big green groups don’t want to see is the Senate proceed with what’s been dubbed the “energy only” option, which several centrist Democrats such as Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) are seeking.

Under that plan, the Senate would take up a package of energy provisions approved last June by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but shelve efforts to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Senate Democratic leadership appears open to this as a fallback if broader climate and energy legislation can’t gain traction.