CLIMATE:

Industry group takes aim at Graham's cap-and-trade views

An industry group this week is launching a media campaign aimed squarely at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), challenging the senator's recent statements supporting a compromise on climate change and energy legislation.

The American Energy Alliance, a group affiliated with the conservative Institute for Energy Research, will go on the air tomorrow with what it described as a "significant" radio ad buy, which paints the cap-and-trade bill as being directly detrimental to the already struggling South Carolina economy.

"South Carolinians are struggling, this recession has pushed local businesses to the brink, our unemployment rate is nearly 12 percent," opens the ad. "So why would Senator Lindsey Graham support new energy taxes called cap and trade that will further harm our economy and kill millions of American jobs?"

The radio spot adds, "Only Washington politicians could think higher taxes, more job losses and skyrocketing energy costs are a good idea."

It concludes by urging voters to call Graham and tell him that "South Carolina can't afford his cap-and-trade tax package."

Though conservative bloggers and commentators have been critical of Graham, the AEA campaign marks the first large-scale media effort targeted at the Republican senator since he authored a New York Times op-ed with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) earlier this month in which he said a compromise on cap and trade was possible if it included an expansion of nuclear power and offshore oil and gas exploration.

AEA described the radio spots as only the first phase of a campaign aimed at "arming South Carolinians with facts about far-reaching policies and their potential impacts on the state's struggling economy."

The group also said that if Graham is serious about expanding energy production, he should urge the Interior Department to take action on the matter rather than pushing for more legislation.

"If he was truly serious about this critical issue, urging the Interior secretary and president to act would speak volumes," said AEA President Thomas Pyle. "However, using offshore oil and gas development as a perceived bargaining chip in this debate is not only misleading, it's baseless and completely without merit."