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Alexander Outlines GOP Approach to Energy Policy

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) put down a GOP marker on energy legislation Monday as Democrats continued a fresh push on the issue in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The tragic gulf oil spill has produced overreaction, demagoguery and bad policy,” Alexander said, taking a swipe at calls to end offshore drilling in particular.

Alexander’s comments on the floor came just after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) again made a push for energy legislation this year. Reid has kicked up his rhetoric in recent weeks, trying to revive an issue that seemed all but dead after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) left bipartisan talks with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.).

While it is unclear whether an energy bill will make it to the floor this year, Reid does plan to discuss the issue with relevant committee chairmen this week and with his entire caucus next week.

With the renewed push coming just as the midterm election season heats up, GOP aides said Republican Members want to rebut criticism that they are obstructing progress and instead want to tie the issue to jobs and the economy. More floor speeches and proposals are expected over the next four-week work period.

Alexander outlined “10 steps for thoughtful grown-ups” to energy policy, which a GOP aide said serves as the conference’s favored approach. He said any new policy should determine how best to clean up massive oil spills like the one off the Gulf Coast, allow oil drilling along the edge of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and expand the use of nuclear power.

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