A couple of weeks ago, we noted that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had called for building 100 new nuclear plants. What Alexander created is, shall we say, a meme, one that is catching on in Republican energy circles. Here for example is Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah):
"It's been my experience and my position...that one of the driving forces behind America's economic growth has been our access to cheap energy," Bennett said at a Republican-only hearing on energy development he organized. "If we're going to survive in the kind of economy we want, we need to have access to cheap energy."
We’re not sure we’d stress the “cheap” part of “cheap energy” – in a way, all energy has been cheap and we’re fairly sure that even the most draconian energy bill might make energy less cheap but far from ruinously expensive - but we take his point, especially since nuclear energy portends no particular need for foreign entanglement. It answers to concerns of energy security quite tidily.
Bennett serves on the energy and natural resources committee and is ranking member on the energy subcommittee of the appropriations committee. He has a significant voice in these issues. So his proscription matters:
That means, Bennett says, reviving the idea of building new nuclear reactors, a move the United States hasn't made since 1977. He wasn't alone in that thought.
He sure wasn’t.
"The president has said Iran can produce electricity through nuclear power, so why in the world should we not in the United States begin to pick up the technology that we invented," Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said.
"The future of energy is clean energy," said Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, including, "building at least 100 new nuclear power plans in the next 20 to 25 years."
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he was stumped why anyone would oppose such a construction blitz.
"You'd think that all Americans can come together on a plan like that," Wicker said.
You’d think. We cannot find ourselves disagreeing with any of this, although we think Bennett’s Republican’s-only get-together would have benefited from some bipartisan effort. Excluding Democrats is what Republicans don’t like when it happens to them and a limited group with no real disagreement can lead to an airy dismissal of problems.
But if Bennett can broaden out his coalition some more – and we think he could – he can turn an interesting assemblage into one that might have an impact on policy. We hope he does that.
Himself. Sen. Bennett is in his third term as junior Senator and is next up for election next year. You can get a sense of his outlook on energy here.