THE ISSUE: Lugar’s climate proposal.

OUR VIEW: Hoosier senator offers what could be a bipartisan measure of significant benefit.

Sen. Richard Lugar has proposed a measure to address climate change.

Lugar says his bill will cut energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without damaging the economy. He calls it the Lugar Practical Energy and Climate Plan, and he says it contains the best ideas from competing climate bills now stalled in the Senate.

Among other things, the measure offers incentives to expand nuclear power, retire aging coal-fired power plants, boost alternative energy sources and switch from foreign to domestic oil.

It does not include the so-called cap-and-trade provision that critics say would have a bad effect in coal-burning states like Indiana.

At a news conference to introduce the bill, Lugar noted that almost 10 percent of Hoosiers were already unemployed and many more were living paycheck to paycheck. It would be a bad time, he said, to enact regulations that would hurt Indiana manufacturers.

Lugar says that within two decades, his bill would cut foreign oil dependence by nearly 40 percent, decrease national energy consumption by 11 percent, reduce average household electric bills by 15 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

Environmental groups are critical of the plan, calling it “amnesty for polluters” and suggesting that it falls short of the changes necessary to head off some of the worst consequences of climate change.

Lugar is no Johnny-come-lately to this debate. He has long been a supporter of cleaner energy, and he lives that philosophy by driving a hybrid and planting trees on his family farm.

Lugar calls his measure a practical energy and climate plan.

Certainly, the U.S. could do more, but could it do more without significant damage to the economy? And could such a measure attract enough votes to pass?

Lugar, as a senior Republican, offers what could be a bipartisan measure – one that could bring significant benefit.

Our hope is that his colleagues in the Senate will give the plan serious consideration.

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