Sen. Lamar Alexander rejects Democrats' climate bill

Posted on October 27, 2009

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander will say during hearings on climate change legislation this week that the measure would cost jobs and stymie economic growth. Hearings on the legislation, sponsored by Democrat Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, begin today before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Alexander, a member of the committee, held a conference call Monday to preview the objections he will raise to the legislation. His outlook is important beyond Tennessee because he is the third-ranking Republican in the Senate and the person in charge of crafting and publicizing the GOP message on issues. Alexander said he accepts that the climate is changing, largely due to man-made conditions. "I don't have an issue with the problem," Alexander said. "My problem is with the solution." The centerpiece of the Kerry-Boxer proposal is a plan to gradually reduce the carbon that could be emitted nationwide. It would allow companies that don't reach emissions targets to buy allowances from companies that meet the targets with room to spare. The idea is to use market forces to reduce overall carbon emissions. The head of the Congressional Budget Office testified earlier this month that the House version of the cap-and-trade system would cut the nation's gross domestic product by 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent in 2020 and by 1 percent to 3.5 percent in 2050. Congressional Democrats and others contend that the system would create green-energy jobs. The GOP alternative Alexander's four-point GOP alternative would: • Build 100 nuclear plants in 20 years. • Electrify half the nation's cars and trucks in 20 years. • Explore offshore sources of natural gas. • Invest in research to find ways to capture carbon generated by coal-fired utilities, make solar power more financially viable, improve battery technology, and deal with waste from nuclear power generation. In addition to the cap-and-trade system, the 821-page Senate bill would promote energy conservation, encourage development of more nuclear power and alternative energy sources, and support research on advanced energy technologies. Today, the committee will hear from top administration officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. The other two days will include testimony from numerous utility executives, environmental groups, academic experts, union leaders and business groups.