Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told a Washington Post colloquium yesterday that he might be open to a cap on utility carbon emissions if it were tied to efforts to expand nuclear power.
"We need a strategy for low cost energy, not high cost energy," Alexander told an audience of press representatives. Also appearing on the panel were Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Respresentative Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
Markey, who co-sponsored the ill-fated Waxman-Markey Climate Control bill, lashed out at the opposition for blocking his bill in the Senate. “I think their agenda over there is held hostage by Kentucky coal and Oklahoma oil," he told the audience.
But Collins, who briefly flirted with the idea of supporting a climate change bill, blamed President Obama, whom she said hosted a closed-door meeting with Republicans and Democrats but then never got in touch again. "There was no follow up," she said. "There was no attempt to identify consensus provisions and programs on both sides. There was no attempt to explain to the American people what the goal was, why it mattered, how it was linked to jobs and the economy and specifically how we could get there."
Alexander, who has become the Senate’s leading advocate of nuclear energy, said it made more sense to deal with climate change in smaller increments. He recommended reviving nuclear energy, promoting the introductiono of electric cars, and putting restrictions on the major pollutants from coal plants. "Maybe along the way we are going to have to just put a lid on carbon from smokestacks from the utilities, tie it to production of nuclear power," he said.
"We don’t do comprehensive well here in Washington,” agreed Collins.