Sen. Alexander wants 100 new nuclear power plants

Senate Republicans’ main message man on Monday unveiled an alternative cap-and-trade plan that would create 100 new nuclear power plants over the next two decades.

Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the Senate Republican Conference chairman, claims his plan will help the country achieve Kyoto protocols by 2030.

Besides creating the nuclear plants, Alexander called for renewed exploration for offshore oil reserves; more funding for electric vehicles; and doubled funding for research and development for renewable energy. From that foundation, Alexander said, American families would save money.

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lexander, who describes himself as one of the senators who sees climate change as a problem, said he would not support the House version of a cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), even if it were amended to include some or all of his own proposals.

“The Waxman-Markey bill is a contraption of mandates and taxes that will add [a] $100 billion cost to the American economy and load down each American family with another utility bill,” he said. “Economy-wide cap-and-trade is an inefficient way to restrict carbon.

“The House bill is all designed on high-cost energy,” he added.

The House plan was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) leading priority for the legislative session. It passed the House on a Friday evening, in a close 219-212 vote.

Alexander also claimed his plan would create more jobs than would the House version, which was one of the Democrats’ main selling points for their legislation.

“The Republican plan is a low-cost, cheap energy plan based on 100 new nuclear power plants, and if we do it, we can reduce utility bills,” Alexander told reporters Monday. Alexander said his proposal would help the U.S. comply with the Kyoto accord without new taxes or mandates on industry.

“The dream of most of the civilized world has always been cheap energy so we can reduce poverty and boost energy around the world,” Alexander said.

Alexander’s proposal would see ratepayers footing the bill for the new power plants, something he said would keep construction costs out of the federal budget.

Meanwhile, royalties from new offshore oil revenues would pay for programs that would encourage development of electric cars and trucks. Doubling research focused on renewable energy costs would add $8 billion a year, approximately the same amount President Obama has slated for his budgets in the next two years.

Alexander said the proposal is his own and has yet to be adopted by the GOP conference. But building new nuclear power plants has long been a cornerstone of Republican alternative-energy plans, while Democrats have opposed the idea.

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Appearing with Alexander, Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, said he would support building new plants.

“This cap-and-trade business, pile-drived as it was through Capitol Hill with one amendment and one day of debate, is very offensive to millions of Americans,” Pence said.

Though Republicans command only 40 seats in the Senate, they are likely to win support from Democratic colleagues nervous about the cap-and-trade legislation the House passed narrowly last month. Several centrist Democrats have expressed concern about the bill, as have some more left-leaning members of the caucus — most notably Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has said he will not yet commit to voting for the bill.