* Senator Graham says Obama administration "reasonable"
* Some environmentalists see too many concessions
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON, March 10 It's rare when a
conservative Republican in Congress heaps praise on President
Barack Obama, especially in regards to fighting global warming,
but Senator Lindsey Graham did just that on Wednesday.
The South Carolina lawmaker has, despite opposition from
many in his party, worked with Obama and Democrats on a
comprehensive energy and environmental bill, winning their
support of more government aid for nuclear power and expanded
oil and gas drilling.
Nuclear power and domestic oil production are at the core
of Republican platforms.
"The president has been great to work with on energy and
climate," Graham, a two-term senator, told reporters.
"I want to say this about the administration. They've been
very reasonable on offshore drilling and nuclear power and
they've been very reasonable at looking at a different way to
But for most Republicans in Congress, the concessions won
by Graham do not offset the impact of Democratic moves to also
impose carbon dioxide pollution controls on utilities,
factories and oil refineries.
Republicans say the federal government under Obama is out
of control and embracing policies, such as the stalled climate
legislation, that kill jobs and increase costs for businesses
Some Republicans in South Carolina moved to censure Graham
last year for saying that he would work with liberal Democratic
Senator John Kerry on a compromise bill to deal with climate
U.S. Representative Joe Barton summed up the Republican
view of climate change legislation when he said last year:
"We're not going to let jobs be destroyed in America for some
esoteric environmental benefit 100 years from now."
Graham, who talks of marrying "business and environmental"
policy, creating energy independence and "literally cleaning up
the air," joined a dozen other senators on Tuesday at a White
House meeting with Obama on climate change legislation.
"The president was great yesterday," he added.
In the past Graham's relations with the White House have
not been as warm. He played a central role in Republican moves
to impeach Democratic President Bill Clinton during the Monica
Lewinsky sex scandal.
Graham also actively campaigned for Senator John McCain
during the 2008 presidential campaign against Obama.
It's unclear whether the Obama-Graham partnership will help
pass a climate change bill in the Senate this year, where
Senator John Rockefeller of West Virginia and others from
coal-producing and coal-using states are dug in against it.
Several lawmakers, including Graham, have said the bitter
battle over Obama's effort to push through an overhaul of the
$2.5 trillion healthcare system could doom chances of
accomplishing any other major initiatives.
Republicans are lined up against the healthcare legislation
and continue to criticize Obama for pushing through an $800
billion economic stimulus package last year.
Kerry and Obama also are mindful if they go too far in
Graham's direction, they may alienate liberal Democrats and
Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell, referring to
industry lobbyists' meetings with Kerry, Graham and independent
Senator Joseph Lieberman, said: "The appearance is the senators
have kissed so many polluter rings that a residue of soot has
been left on the lips."
(Editing by Paul Simao)