Is the Republican Party In Favor of Sulfur Emissions? Senator Graham Wants To Know

It says something about where our politics are today when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has to ask that question. Of course, there’s reason to wonder what the answer is. It was certainly not intentional irony when, shortly after this story appeared about Senator Graham, Senator Rockefeller announced that he has given up on legislation that would delay implementation of EPA GHG rules because the bill has lost Republican support. The reason? It’s not that the Republicans are opposed to the delay; it’s just that it’s more important to the Republicans that they be able to make political hay out of the issue when they are in the majority next term. Then there’s Texas Representative Joe Barton, who has made it his mission to save the incandescent light bulb. I wonder what he would say if he had a horse shoe factory in his district?

Political prognostication is neither my strong point nor the purpose of this blog. I note only that, while the Democrats are in retreat now, it was only two years ago that many were predicting a lengthy time in the minority for the Republicans. Senator Graham seems to be one of the few taking the long view:

I’m concerned that if the Republican Party doesn’t embrace the idea [that] it’s OK to clean up the air, we’re gonna lose young people forever, Graham told ClimateWire. Whether you like it or not, young people are environmentally sensitive. I happen to like it.

At a practical level, Senator Graham’s concerns seem focused in the short run on legislation that would enact some kind of clean energy standard, or CES – like an RES, but including nuclear energy and clean coal. In many ways, imposing a CES or RES seems like more of an interference in the market than simply putting a price on carbon, which is what free market economists would say is necessary to internalize an externality. However, with climate legislation dead for the near term, and with a focus on jobs, CES legislation might have some chance of moving forward. 

Will it pass? I’ll leave the prognostication to others.

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