Alexander Calls For Realistic Approach To Climate Change

Says President Has Neglected The Low-Cost Solution, Nuclear Power

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Senator Lamar Alexander Wednesday made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

“I’m still shaking my head a little bit in disbelief at the President’s speech yesterday at the climate change summit in New York. Here we had 100 leaders from around the world in our country to talk about climate change, and the President said what he has said before, which is that we need to stop putting so much carbon in the air because carbon is the principal greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, in the opinion of most scientists.

But the President did not even mention the one way we have to create a lot of low-cost electricity without putting any carbon in the air, and that is nuclear power.”

“Now, the President did boast of how the United States is committed to building windmills and solar panels. In fact, his administration wants to provide 20 percent of your electricity from wind turbines. And these aren’t your grandma’s windmills. These are the giant 50-story wind turbines that they want to string along the Appalachian mountain-tops from the Smoky Mountains and along the coastlines, which require transmission lines through your back yard. That’s the plan . . . Today wind turbines and solar panels produce about 5 percent of America’s carbon-free electricity. Nuclear power produces 70 percent of our carbon-free electricity. So why not expand nuclear power?”

“China is planning 132 new nuclear plants and we are constructing zero. We haven’t licensed a new plant in 30 years. So how can we lecture China about carbon if they’re planning to build 132 nuclear power plants, which would be enough to produce one-fourth of all the electricity the United States uses?

“I hope that, as we proceed after health care to our debate on energy and climate change, we’ll take a more realistic approach. I’m one of those senators who believes climate change is a problem. I believe humans are contributing to it. It think it’s time for us to stop emitting so much carbon into the air, but I’d like for us to do that in a low-cost, sensible way that permits us to keep jobs in this country and not in a high-cost way that causes us to drive American companies overseas looking for cheap energy. Every single Republican senator has endorsed an energy plan that entails: one, 100 nuclear plants in 20 years; two, electrifying our cars and trucks in 30 years; three, offshore exploration for natural gas, which is low-carbon, and oil; and four, doubling research and development for alternative energies and to find ways to make solar cost competitive and a way to recapture carbon from coal plants.”

Senator Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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