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Congress Ponders Using Nuclear Subs As Emergency Power Source For California


Congressional staff are exploring the prospect of using the Navy's nuclear-powered submarines as emergency generators to supply power to California as a way to ease its energy crisis, though a Navy spokesperson says the idea is "impractical."

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Senate Budget Chairman Protests Bush DOE Spending Cuts

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) says he is concerned about President Bush's plans to slash funding for Department of Energy (DOE) programs, including nuclear waste cleanups and research into energy efficiency and renewables. But the senator says he intends to offer a budget resolution on the Senate floor that mirrors Bush's proposal, though he may offer an amendment to soften the blow to energy funding.

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Protests To California Power Crisis Response May Lead To Lawsuit

Activists are intensifying their protests of the environmental consequences of California's efforts to boost power generation, and are examining a possible legal challenge. The groups are calling on Cal/EPA Secretary Winston Hickox to explain in detail plans to implement several controversial executive orders issued by Gov. Gray Davis to ease air pollution rules and other environmental laws to fast-track power generation.

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Widely Supported Energy Tax Credits Face Major Hurdles

Republicans and Democrats searching for ways to address the nation's looming energy crisis have suggested an array of tax credits to boost energy supplies and encourage conservation. But congressional staff warn that for political, financial and procedural reasons, it may be very difficult to adopt any tax incentives this year, particularly in the wake of the expected battle over President Bush's centerpiece $1.6 trillion tax cut.

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Key House Member To Offer California Energy Bill Next Week

The House subcommittee chairman responsible for drafting national energy legislation says he plans to offer an "emergency" bill next week to address California's power crisis. Among the hotly debated topics that may appear in the bill are: wholesale price caps, the possibility of granting federal regulators authority to site new power generation and transmission facilities, mandatory demand side mitigation, and the removal of retail price caps for ratepayers.

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Utility Official Warns Of Widespread Blackouts This Summer

An electric utility industry official responsible for making sure the lights stay on throughout North America has warned that both the East and West coasts are in danger of experiencing blackouts this summer. The warning is likely to fuel state and federal efforts to boost energy supplies to curtail the spread of California's recent power woes. But the official argued that attempts to speed construction of new transmission facilities, which has sparked concerns by environmentalists about rolling back siting requirements, would not be enough to stave off power shortages on either coast.

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Nuclear Industry Targets Renewal Of Liability Coverage As Top Legislative Priority


Nuclear energy industry officials have targeted as a top priority in the congressional energy debate renewal of a federal law that provides $9.5 billion in liability coverage for power plant accidents. Industry officials argue that extending the law is critical to ensuring that nuclear power is an option in the nation's energy supply mix.

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Leading Environmentalist Dismisses Efforts To Revive Nuclear Power

A senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is rejecting efforts to site new nuclear power plants to alleviate the nation's power crisis, and argues that the environmental community is not threatened by renewed interest in nuclear energy by Republican policymakers in Congress and the White House. NRDC led the charge to stymie construction of nuclear power plants in the late 1970s, and is credited by many as the organization most centrally responsible for the stagnation of the nuclear industry over the past several decades.

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GOP Leaders Show New Willingness To Raise Auto Efficiency Standards

Several key Republican House members say that in drafting a comprehensive energy strategy, they are now willing to consider mandatory increases in the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks that they have opposed for years.

"We will have to be willing to at least consider it," Rep. Charles "Chip" Pickering ( R-MS) told reporters on March 20. Pickering has been assigned by House energy and air quality subcommittee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) to convene workshops for lawmakers on critical energy issues in preparation for drafting an energy bill.

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