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Kerry, Graham Talk Up Chances for Climate Bill

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) maintained Sunday that a bipartisan climate change bill will pass the Senate this year.“We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress,— the two wrote in a New York Times opinion piece. Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is co-author of a sweeping climate change bill along with Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). That legislation was introduced last month to little fanfare, and onlookers predict the Senate’s packed fall agenda — in which passing health care reform is the top priority — leaves little room for taking up a climate change bill. But Kerry and Graham warned that “failure to act comes with another cost.— “If Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration will use the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations. Imposed regulations are likely to be tougher and they certainly will not include the job protections and investment incentives we are proposing,— Kerry and Graham pointed out. The opinion piece comes just as the EPW Committee prepares to hold hearings on the climate change bill and two months before world leaders — including President Barack Obama — meet in Copenhagen for a United Nations conference on climate change. Graham has been meeting privately with a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), to come up with language that could woo a handful of moderate Republicans and Rust Belt Democrats, who fear any climate change bill will impose a harsh economic impact on their home states. Kerry and Graham, without specifying details, assert that “short-term transition costs … can be eased— with any climate change legislation passed this year.

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