S.C. conservationists and business leaders rallied to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's defense Tuesday, after an energy industry group began running ads critical of the Republican's support of a bipartisan energy bill.
On a conference call, supporters said Graham is fighting for South Carolina's needs in the national energy debate, and that future U.S. prosperity and security depend on energy conservation and efficiency.
"If you're not at the table, you're on the table," subject to being carved up, said Michael Couick, president and chief executive of the Electrical Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc. "Lindsey Graham gets us a seat at the table."
Couick said an energy bill that is good for California or other large states might not be right for South Carolina, where a higher percentage of households earn $25,000 or less and are more likely to live in manufactured housing that may be less energy efficient.
"We've found that Sen. Graham understands South Carolina and the challenges we face," Couick said.
And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave a boost to Graham's position, Tuesday, crediting Graham for many of the principles he wants in the bill. Those include limiting the impact on major emitters, focusing on renewable and nuclear energy and reducing price volatility for consumers. The Chamber, the largest business-advocacy association in the country, had been criticized by Apple and other companies for being slow to support a bill addressing climate change.
Critics of the bill - known as "cap and trade" because it attempts to limit pollution by providing economic incentives - argue the proposal would increase the cost of energy production, resulting in higher bills to consumers and job losses in businesses. The radio ads target Graham for publicly supporting the proposal with former Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
- John O'Connor