GOP's Graham: Forget EPA, let Congress regulate carbon

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he expects to introduce a bill by the end of April that would help the economy and control greenhouse gases better than rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Speaking to business and environmental leaders in Columbia, Graham, R-S.C., and state regulators said the new EPA rules are more far-reaching than necessary to control carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says the regulations are so sweeping they could affect large homes and small businesses, not just industries that produce the bulk of greenhouse gases.

"Anybody that produces carbon, from a small farmer to a church, is potentially affected," Graham said. "And I believe the way to regulate carbon - and it should be regulated by the way - is through Congress, not through the EPA."

Graham is working with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., on new legislation. The bill would pre-empt the EPA regulations.

Whether the Graham bill can pass Congress is in question.

Some clean air activists have said it might be hard for Congress to approve such a bill anytime soon. As a result, the EPA rules will put necessary controls on greenhouse gas pollution, they say.

After Monday's meeting, Graham said the bill would require oil companies that produce carbon to pay a fee, with the proceeds going to retire the national debt or for low income people "to deal with their energy needs."

Utilities also would have a limited cap on carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

But the bill also would allow for more offshore drilling and emphasize nuclear power and alternative energy, Graham said. It will encourage investment in alternative energy and nuclear energy, he said.

"The sooner we can get away from our dependence on Mideast oil, the better," Graham said.