Alexander calls climate change bill a 'job killer'

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:50am

On the eve of Senate hearings on climate change legislation, Sen. Lamar Alexander denounced the bill Monday as a job killer and offered his own alternatives to curtailing greenhouse gases.

Alexander said, in a conference call with reporters, the United States should build 100 nuclear power plants and electrify half of the country's cars and trucks in the next 20 years. In addition, he called for exploring offshore for natural gas and for launching four "mini-Manhattan Projects" to research alternative energy.

He said the research efforts should focus on finding ways to recapture carbon from coal plants, to make solar power cost competitive, to make electric batteries better, and to recycle nuclear fuel without isolating plutonium.

"Almost every other major country in the world is moving ahead with nuclear power plants," said Alexander, who has called for massive construction of new reactors for months. "We invented the nuclear power plant and haven't built a new one in 30 years. If we had invented a nuclear navy and it was doing exactly what we wanted it to do, why would we suddenly stop building nuclear vessels and start subsidizing sailboats for our navy?"

He said that's analogous to what the Senate climate change legislation would do.

"Just as we're not going to win a war with sailboats, we're not going to meet a carbon [reduction] goal with windmills or with solar panels that cost four or five times more than conventional electricity. We're going to have to go with what we invented. What we invented is nuclear power. And what we have coming on rapidly is electric cars. Just those two things alone may get us where we need to go and if they don't we can take additional steps."

The Senate's environment and public works committee will start hearings Tuesday on the climate change bill backed by the committee chair, Barbara Boxer of California, and John Kerry of Massachusetts. The bill aims to cut U.S. emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Like the bill that's already passed the House, it would impose a cap-and-trade system with permits for greenhouse gas emissions that companies could buy and sell. It also would provide incentives for alternative energies like windmill and solar power.

Alexander said he accepts the science of climate change and global warming. But he said, "I don't think we should start out by deliberately making ourselves poorer by running jobs overseas and making it harder for people to pay their mortgages and hospital bills until we've tried other alternatives."

"Our goal as a country and a world has always been to have cheap energy, not expensive energy. Expensive energy makes people poor. Cheap energy makes people prosperous."

8 Comments on this post:

By: nature on 10/26/09 at 2:26

Thank you Senator Alexander. We are so blind to other ideas unless the "greenie meanies' come up some idea. Don't get me wrong. I am one big time tree hugger. Also, I understand the argument against using nuclear power to make electricity.
Windmills, solar power, great ideas. we are about 20 years from technology is really viable. Right now, these technologies are still R&D.
In almost all European countries nuclear powers is being used to create the majority of their electrical power. Why not invest in this way to produce cheap electricity? Leave it to TVA to monopolize the making of power in the south. Another government run blunder! And what else is made along with cheap electricty? Jobs! People need jobs, we have workers looking for jobs. These plants need to be built, staffed, and run with people power. Something to think about.

By: idgaf on 10/27/09 at 4:26

Buying and selling "credits" does nothing to reduce emmissions.

The big benifactors would be GE and algore both barrys buds.

By: Kosh III on 10/27/09 at 6:30

IIRC, back in the early 70's when environmental laws were proposed, there was a lot of doom-n-gloom about job losses. Yet there were whole new industries created.
Lame-ar just wants to protect his corporate masters.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 10/27/09 at 6:59

There are positives and negatives with any kind of energy generation source. To decrease the negative effects, we could use a common sense approach. That would be using LESS energy, instead of the "make more so we can use more" situation we are in now.

By: pandabear on 10/27/09 at 9:20

The advances in solar power are incredible.
They use more solar and wind power in Europe, not
more nuclear power.

Lamar, stop thinking with your "hand out".

By: pswindle on 10/27/09 at 10:26

I want to know what financial interest that Lamar has in nuclear energy. We cannot build more plants until we know how to dispose of the waste in a more safe way. Lamar has been a full partner in shouting NO to every thing that President Obama has planned to make life cleaner. We have to go this way even if it cost a little more in the onset. We cannot keep going like we have for the last hundred years. We need to get someone in Congress that understands that we must not stand still. If the GOP wants to sit on their hands and let the rest of the states pass us by, we are headed in the right direction. He says that he believes in gobal warming, but he does not want to help in anyway. We need to go back where the democrats have a little say in running our state, before the republicans turn back the clock a hundred years.

By: Dragon on 10/27/09 at 2:12

As Obama has stated, the intent of cap-and-trade is to increase the cost of power in order to make "renewable" power economically feasible. The addition of cheap, nuclear electricity would undermine the motivation to develop solar, wind, tidal, etc.

"Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket"

By: blktenn on 10/28/09 at 6:51

Like most republicans you can find fault with every process. BUT you never bring anything to the table unlesss you are trying to save your but.