WASHINGTON — House Republicans are calling for a hundred new nuclear power plants to be built in the next two decades as part of an energy plan they say is a better alternative than one championed by Democrats.
The legislation unveiled by the GOP Wednesday would also increase production of oil and gas offshore, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and spur refinery construction. The money from the new drilling would go into a trust fund that would pay for the development of renewable energy.
"You have a conflict of visions between the Democratic approach and the Republican alternative. It is a difference between the carrot and the stick," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who chaired the Republican task force charged with developing the legislation, which will be introduced this week.
The Democratic bill has the support of the White House and is on course to reach the House floor as early as the end of the month. It sets mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for producing electricity from renewable sources.
Democrats believe that limits on global warming pollution _ which will require companies to spend money to reduce emissions _ are needed to encourage conservation and the development of cleaner forms of energy, including nuclear.
Republicans on Wednesday said that approach amounted to a national energy tax that would result in job losses and increase energy costs.
"The winter of our discontent comes not from the environmental climate, it comes from the economic climate," said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich. "Why at this point in time...would you come forward with a bill the premise of which is this: The government will control the weather by raising your taxes, taking you job and telling you how to live."
Republican leaders said their bill provides incentives to switch to cleaner energy sources, by extending tax credits for renewable energy and streamlining the permit process for nuclear power plants and refineries.
But it was unclear whether that would be enough to drive a transition on the scale needed to reduce emissions to avert the worst consequences of global warming.
House Democrats, in a memo handed out by aides after the Republican news conference, called the Republican plan "a rehash of failed energy policies."
On the Net:
Republicans in Congress: http://www.gop.gov
House Energy and Commerce Committee: http://energycommerce.house.gov