Battle for the Senate: South Carolina

No one thought the South Carolina Senate seat would be in play six months ago.

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham is in the spotlight this week due to the Barrett nomination.  I didn’t originally have his seat on my list of Senate races to watch.  However, although the race still leans in his favor, the seat is now considered to be in play.  It’s worth comparing his environmental views with those of his opponent, Jaime Harrison.

Lindsey Graham (R).

His campaign website pledges his support for “Lower taxes. Less regulation.”  He also says he has worked with “countless companies” on issues including EPA regulations.  His website expresses his fervent support for gun rights, abortion restrictions, and (of course) conservative judges.  It says nothing about energy or the environment.

There was a time when he joined John McCain in endorsing a cap-and-trade system for carbon. To be fair, he still does accept the reality of climate change and has urged Trump to do so as well.  But by 2015, he had rejected cap and trade. At that point, he was saying : “I’m for offshore drilling. I’m for finding oil and gas that we own. I’m for coal, I’m for clean coal, I’m for natural gas” — adding at the end:  “but I would like a lower carbon economy over time.” His lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters has declined to 13%. 

Jaime Harrison (D).  

Harrison, a lesser-known figure than Graham, has been an advisor and official within the Democratic Party.  In the “Environmental Justice” tab of his campaign site, he supports “action to make our coastline resilient, protect our clean air and water, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and prepare our infrastructure for rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms. ”  He also says he will “fight for South Carolinians by opposing any drilling off our pristine coast. ”

In addition, Harrison emphasizes the importance of “stabilizing the communities most hurt by climate change.” His solution is “both an Environmental Justice Fund to reinvest in sustainable infrastructure in the hardest-hit communities as well as increased support for Superfund clean-up.”

Although the election still leans Graham’s way, Harrison has dramatically outdone him in fundraising. Graham is counting on the Barrett nomination to pull the electorate his way.  We’ll see in a few weeks whether that’s worked.

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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