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Senate climate bill faces challenges

"There is nowhere near 60 votes for a nuclear power bill on its own. There's not 60 votes for a cap-and-trade bill as it's currently constructed," Graham said in an interview. He said combining the two measures is "the only way you'll get to 60 votes."

It is what Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope calls "the old formula for bipartisanship."

"They would agree on a goal, they would not agree exactly on the means to a goal, and they'd come up with a legislative solution that takes elements from both sides," he said.

And Graham, for his part, has become a lightning rod for controversy back home. On Oct. 22, the American Energy Alliance, an advocacy group funded in part by energy companies, launched a radio, TV and online advertising campaign in South Carolina that has cost "close to $300,000" so far, according to the group's spokesman, Patrick Creighton.

Featuring a Halloween theme, the TV commercial warns of "some scary stories coming out of Washington" and says, "The latest is Senator Lindsey Graham's support for a national energy tax called cap-and-trade."

Creighton said the group questions why Graham says a deal will help offshore drilling, which Congress has already allowed.

Groups backing the climate bill came to Graham's defense last week. They aired radio and television ads that featured state Sen. John Courson, a conservative Republican who became concerned about global warming after witnessing the decline of polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba.

"Out-of-state interests are attacking our Senator Lindsey Graham," Courson says in an ad underwritten by Republicans for Environmental Protection, "because he's backing an energy plan that produces more power in America."

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said he is optimistic that the parties can reach an accord because Americans are not divided along party lines on global warming. "Is there bipartisanship in the country? I think clearly there is," he said.

State lawmakers who came to advise the White House last week on climate saw a different picture. "We looked for any Republican, in any state legislature in the country, who supported a bill," recalled Minnesota state Rep. Jeremy Kalin. "We found not a one."

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