House GOP unveils energy bill heavy on fossil fuels and nuclear power
Photo: Republican ConferenceHouse Republicans have rolled out their own energy plan, the American Energy Act, intended to compete with the American Clean Energy and Security Act put forward by Democrats.
Like the energy bill they released last year, Republicans are calling this one an “all of the above” plan — but it’s a lot heavier on nuclear power, coal, and oil than it is on renewables or efficiency, and it doesn’t try to rein in greenhouse gases at all.
“This is an alternative that takes us in the direction of energy independence and a clean environment without the national energy tax being offered by the Democrats,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who heads the House Republicans’ American Energy Solutions Group. The group has been hosting events around the country to drum up support for fossil fuels and opposition to the Dems’ ACES bill.
Pence, a climate-change skeptic, told reporters last month that “while some may like to bog this debate down in the science over the man-made origins of global warming,” he and other Republicans in the House prefer to focus on moving “toward a horizon of cleaner air, and we believe we can do that without costing American jobs and putting an extraordinary energy tax on the American people.”
The Dems’ ACES bill may head to the House floor as soon as the week of June 22. Republicans are almost unanimously opposed to it, but they’re seriously outnumbered, so the best they can hope for is to inject their ideas into the public debate — and maybe cause Democrats some headaches along the way.
The GOP energy bill would:
- set a goal of building 100 new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years
- increase government use of oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to liquid technology, and provide loans for coal-to-liquid development
- open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas drilling
- open up areas in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado for oil-shale leasing and development
- make permanent the production tax credits for wind, solar, and biomass, and the investment tax credits for solar and fuel cells; extend credits for biodiesel
- direct the president to designate at least three closed military installations as suitable locations for new oil refineries, including at least one that can produce biofuels
- severely limit the ability of private citizens and environmental groups to challenge proposed new energy development projects in court
- expedite environmental review by cutting out components of the review process
- create a cash prize for research and development of new energy technologies, including a $500 million prize to the first U.S. automobile manufacturer to sell 50,000 vehicles that get at least 100 miles per gallon
Republican leaders provided a handy list of talking points for members to use in touting the bill, including:
- “The Democrats’ answer to the worst recession in decades is a national energy tax that will lead to higher energy prices and further job losses.”
- “Thousands of dollars in extra energy costs and millions of jobs lost is a high price to pay for an energy policy that will do very little to clean up our environment.”
- “The American people deserve better. The American Energy Act is an all-of-the-above plan that will provide energy independence, more jobs here at home, and a cleaner environment.”
- “The American people don’t want a national energy tax; they want energy independence. The House Republican plan is the comprehensive energy solution this country desperately needs.”
The Republicans are likely to offer the bill as a substitute during floor debate over ACES. Then maybe they’ll stage another sit-in.
Get Grist in your inbox