Senate Republicans will float new climate change legislation Monday that leans heavily on the use of nuclear power, calls for more spending on research and development, and promotes an increase in offshore oil and gas drilling.The GOP proposal, which will be formally introduced by Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn), is an alternative to climate change legislation being put together by Democrats and is designed to coincide with hearings starting Monday in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.Alexander will announce the GOP plan later Monday at an event at the National Press Club.The bill would include significant new expansions in research of renewable energy, investments in electric car technology and an Alexander proposal to build 100 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.Perhaps more significantly, however, Senate Republicans are for the first time taking on the issue of climate change directly. In announcing a plan of their own, they are not only acknowledging a problem exists, but also proposing GOP alternatives to Democrats plans. In fact, Alexander and other Senate Republicans are going so far as to argue that their legislation could help the United States meet carbon emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol. Our plan will put the U.S. within the limits of the Kyoto treaty by 2030, Alexander said Friday.Senate Republicans all 40 of whom have signed off on the proposal also hope the bill will serve as the vehicle for another successful energy debate. In one of their rare policy victories last year, Republicans were able to force Democrats to agree to an expansion of offshore drilling. What we hope to do is what we were able to do last year with the amendment on offshore oil and gas drilling, Alexander said.Republicans in the Senate are hoping to tie the climate debate to the broader economic crisis. They hope to make the case that Democrats legislation will cause significant increases in energy costs, while also arguing that the GOP plan will help create jobs with the construction of new nuclear power plants.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.