Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Republican Energy Bill

The Republicans will today introduce an energy bill intended as a replacement for the Waxman-Markey legislation now wending its way through the House (and due for a vote sometime near the end of June – a date’s not set yet.) Here’s the Times:

The Republican proposal, drafted by a group led by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, leans heavily on nuclear power, setting a goal of building 100 reactors over the next 20 years.

So we would expect the bill to include some provisions for beefing up DOE and NRC to handle this. But what can we say? More, please.

There’s also this:

The bill also provides incentives for increased oil and gas production on public and private lands and offshore. It would also authorize oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, a focus of 30 years of controversy in Congress.

This proved to be a popular provision during last year’s Presidential campaign, but even if the House adopts some ideas from the bill, this likely won’t be one of them. ANWR’s become an article of faith in both parties, but they are as opposite poles on a magnet.

Now, while this bill will likely have most value as an index of ideas the party would like to see implemented, the ideas themselves are certainly worth consideration. For example:

The Republican measure does not include any mandatory cap on emissions of heat-trapping gases, relying instead on nuclear energy, natural gas and renewable fuels like wind, solar and biomass power to reduce production of the gases, which have been linked to global warming.

We’re not entirely sure how the Republicans avoid a command-and-control mechanism over energy here – after all, private industry plays a heavy role, so a lot of government pot sweetening would have to take place to move the markets where the Republicans want them to go. Let’s see if the bill, once it’s posted, goes further into these issues.

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Here’s Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) announcing the plan on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Pence was the lead on this bill, as Chairman of the American Energy Solutions Group, a working group within the caucus. You can see his statement about the bill here.

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