South Carolina's senior senator has caught grief from some on the right for teaming up with Massachusetts' senior senator to seek compromise climate change legislation. But before accusing Sen. Lindsey Graham of straying into far left field with Sen. John Kerry, consider the praise that their joint efforts -- including a recent, co-written, widely published column -- have drawn from not just heads of prominent environmental groups but heads of prominent corporations.
The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, in a letter to the senators, applauded their "leadership in seeking a bipartisan path forward" on this issue, adding: "We share your goal of enacting an energy and climate policy that is environmentally sound, economically sustainable and protective of our national security."
And: "Currently, Europe, China, and India are investing heavily in the development of new clean-energy technologies, trying to seize the global competitive edge. Properly designed climate legislation and a favorable investment environment can foster and reward U.S. innovation, create jobs at home and put us at the front of this race."
Among the USCAP members who signed that letter were the CEOs and presidents of the Nature Conservancy, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the Environmental Defense Fund. However, also signing were the chiefs of Alcoa, Caterpillar Inc., ConocoPhillips, Dow, Duke, DuPont, General Motors and Shell -- hardly a list of the usual pro-regulation, anti-business suspects.
Like them, Sen. Graham is pressing for an energy bill that reduces greenhouse gas emissions without reducing the strength of economic recovery. As he recently told The Associated Press: "Global climate change is not a religion to me, but I do believe carbon pollution is harmful to the environment and I want to find a way to fix that problem. But it's got to be good business."
Stressing that "good business" point, Sen. Graham advocates practical, productive incentives to make it "worth your time to invest in wind, solar and nuclear."
The Senate has begun "cap and trade" hearings. Clashing views on this matter are getting mighty warm in Washington -- and in our letters to the editor.
But don't let that rising rhetorical heat obscure the compelling case for lowering carbon emissions with a balanced energy bill.
And don't forget that some captains of industry are lining up with our senior senator to advance that "good business" cause.