House Republicans - including Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah - introduced their own alternative energy plan Thursday to better promote conservation and use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power.
President Bush's energy plan submitted to Congress last month has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for putting too little emphasis in such areas.The new plan is co-sponsored by major Republican House leaders and key members on energy-related committees.
"This is a strong proposal that deals with the nation's energy needs in a comprehensive and constructive manner, and it is one that deserves immediate attention by Congress," said Hansen, ranking Republican on the House Interior Subcommittee on Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources.
However, aides said it is weaker than Hansen would like in one area: developing oil shale and tar sands, which Utah has in abundance. The state hoped after the oil crisis of the 1970s that development of them would bring an economic boom, but it never materialized as world oil prices dropped.
In what was referred to as "tar wars," Hansen last month criticized Bush for not putting any emphasis on development of tar sands.
An aide to Hansen said the new House Republican plan does provide some research and development money for "alternative oils," but Hansen would like to see it go further. But the aide said the bill a starting point for possible future improvements.
Hansen said in a press release: "We Republicans are serious about developing a national energy strategy to ensure that our energy needs are taken care of far into the future. Now, not tomorrow, is the time to properly deal with our energy future."
Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., chairman of the House Republican Energy Task Force, also urged Democrats to come forward with their own plan to begin negotiations.
"President Bush has an energy package on the table. House Republicans have an energy package on the table. House Democrats have nothing on the table. Unfortunately, it's their table," he said about Democratic control of the House.
Among provisions of the House Republicans plan are:
- Encouraging greater electricity conservation and efficiency through financial incentives and regulatory changes.
- Encourage greater use of mass transit and the use of alternative fuels by fleet vehicles.
- Encourage use of renewable energy sources by cutting red tape and providing tax credits for electric generation by solar, wind or geothermal means.
- Streamline the licensing process for nuclear power plants.
- Call for greater research into clean-coal technology.
- Call for oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.