Colorado firms conflicted on immigration debate bumping climate change bill

What do Colorado residents – both the legal and illegal ones – care more about: comprehensive climate change legislation or immigration reform?

Even as blogs and news sites on both the right and the left are predicting spillover effects in Colorado from Arizona’s new, “toughest-in-the-land” immigration law, the resulting outcry is threatening to derail months of work on climate change legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., over the weekend angrily pulled the plug on today’s announcement of a Senate version of a climate change and energy bill passed by the House last summer. Graham has been working with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman on the bill for months, but was reportedly incensed that immigration reform may now leapfrog climate change.

Lieberman today confirmed Reid will likely push immigration reform to the forefront – even after climate change legislation was first pushed back by the health care debate and now banking reform. And the postponement of a climate change bill could mean the acceleration of looming EPA enforcement of industry emissions as greenhouse gases.

Colorado companies will likely be deeply divided and seriously conflicted should immigration reform bump climate change to the backburner. Tourism, outdoor recreation and agriculture depend heavily on immigrant labor – even more so before the recession freed up more domestic labor – but climate change legislation also is a top priority for many of those same companies.

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