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House Republicans pitch nuclear, natural gas as 'cleaner' energy future

House Republicans pitch nuclear, natural gas as 'cleaner' energy future
© Greg Nash

House Republicans on Monday touted a plan they’re pitching as a way to secure “cleaner American energy,” highlighting existing legislation that seeks to advance the use of nuclear and natural gas. 

A press release packages the legislation together as the House GOP’s agenda for a cleaner energy future that moves toward gaining a "global competitive edge." Democrats released a sprawling plan of their own earlier this month aiming to get the country on track to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Reps. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHouse Republicans circulate memo on legislative concepts targeting Big Tech Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids GOP lawmakers press social media giants for data on impacts on children's mental health MORE (R-Wash.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonOvernight Energy: Michigan reps reintroduce measure for national 'forever chemicals' standard |  White House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill Mark Ruffalo joins bipartisan lawmakers in introducing chemical regulation bill Michigan reps reintroduce measure for national 'forever chemicals' standard MORE (R-Mich.) and David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThe Memo: Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Native groups hope Haaland's historic confirmation comes with tribal wins | EPA asks court to nix Trump rule limiting GHG regs | Green group asks regulators to block use of utility customers' money for lobbying  Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE (R-W.Va.) said in a joint statement that their plan will “help modernize our infrastructure and ensure America continues to lead the world in reducing emissions — while keeping the lights on and energy costs low.”

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“Rather than Green New Deal-style regulations and job-crushing actions like canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, we urge Democrats to join us in a bipartisan way to advance these real, workable solutions. Our plan is a much better agenda to protect the environment, jobs, and our national security than their unworkable pie-in-the-sky mandates,” they said, taking a shot at Democrats.

The Democrats' earlier proposal, called the CLEAN Future Act, seeks to set a standard requiring electricity to come from clean sources by 2035, increase the deployment of electric vehicles and set energy efficiency targets for buildings.

The Republican legislation, which does not incorporate measures promoting wind or solar energy, stands in contrast to proposals for a “clean energy future” that seek to transition away from fossil fuels. 

On nuclear, the legislation incorporated in the plan includes measures seeking to establish a uranium reserve and speed up nuclear power plant permits and reactor environmental reviews. 

Many of the provisions pitched as boosting natural gas, including those seeking to make it easier for permitting cross-border pipelines and prohibiting a ban on a controversial extraction method called fracking, could also boost the oil industry. 

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Other measures in the bill would seek to reduce methane emissions from flaring and venting natural gas, in which gas is released or burned off, during oil and gas production and authorize the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would import oil from Canada. 

It also includes a provision seeking to advance the use of hydropower. 

Altogether, the package would face an uphill battle in the Democratic-led House and Senate.

Natural gas has a lower carbon intensity than other fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and Democrats have been divided on whether to consider it a "bridge fuel" in the transition to clean energy. Nuclear also divides Democrats, as it does not have carbon emissions but does have waste that can require storage.