A left-leaning advocacy group is running an advertising campaign accusing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) of "flip-flopping" on comprehensive energy and climate legislation after backing away from a bill he co-sponsored earlier this year.
The American Values Network will launch advertisements in the Washington, D.C., area today, accusing Graham of backing away from a comprehensive bill in favor of the type of energy and climate approach he has previously characterized as "half-assed."
Graham helped author a cap-and-trade climate bill with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), but he backed away from those negotiations in April over an unrelated political battle involving immigration. He has since added new reasons keeping him from the bargaining table, including the lack of interest in expanding offshore oil drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
While he was in talks with Kerry and Lieberman, Graham suggested that an "energy only" approach to climate and energy legislation would not work, but earlier this month, Graham signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill from Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and domestic oil consumption without using the controversial cap-and-trade program sought by President Obama and many Democrats.
"With Senator Graham now abandoning bipartisanship for precisely the type of energy bill he previously dismissed as 'half-assed,' it's hard to understand how he maintains any credibility on what is doable on energy policy in this Congress," said Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network.
Sapp said Graham has taken "a principled stand on what he knew was right" for most of the debate. The group ran an ad campaign in South Carolina in February supporting his initial efforts to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.
"I think it's a hard sell right now," Graham told reporters yesterday of the Kerry-Lieberman bill.
"There was strong support for offshore exploration, that has dropped fairly dramatically, and I don't see how you can have a comprehensive energy reform proposal that doesn't include domestic exploration for oil and gas on and offshore," Graham said. But amid the Gulf spill, he said, "now's not the time to do that."
A Graham spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
Americans United for Change, another left-leaning group, is launching a separate ad campaign today targeting Senate Republicans for voting for a failed measure to block U.S. EPA climate rules last week.
The ads, which are the latest in a series from the group, accuse Senate Republicans who supported the bid from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) of voting to "gut the Clean Air Act" and "bail out Big Oil."
Murkowski and her supporters argued that EPA climate regulations under the Clean Air Act will impose widespread economic and regulatory burdens. Murkowski has repeatedly said that Congress, not a federal agency, should oversee federal climate policy.
All 41 Senate Republicans and six Democrats voted Thursday to support the Murkowski measure, which was quashed in a 47-53 procedural vote.
The group spent $400,000 to begin running ads today on Washington, D.C., cable channels.
Click here for the Graham ad.