Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is pushing a national energy plan he says will save billions of dollars by increasing domestic oil production and improving energy efficiency.
Lugar rolled out his plan Thursday morning on Facebook. His proposal would cut foreign oil consumption by 50 percent by 2030, open access to Alaska oil reserves and end what Lugar called an oil drilling "permitorium" put in place by the Obama administration after last year's gulf oil spill.
Lugar also aims to save American's $33 billion annually through energy conservation, in part by subsidizing retrofits to improve energy efficiency in buildings. He says the savings would create an "unexpected windfall."
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said that while the energy debate has been pushed to the backburner in Washington — as lawmakers wrestle with the budget and the nation's debt ceiling — Lugar is floating the plan now so that it is out there when the energy debate re-emerges as a front-burner issue.
The veteran lawmaker is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
But most of the benefits of the energy plan would not be seen until 2030, long after Americans have recovered from the current recession, said Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner, who panned it as "repackaged" Lugar ideas which have been unsuccessful before.
"It also seems a little light on specifics as to how the plan would actually be executed," Conner said.
Efforts to pass sweeping energy legislation through Congress have stalled in recent years, stumbling over regional political divides and partisan battles over the issue of global warming.
More recently, efforts to end annual corn ethanol subsidies — backed in part by many conservative lawmakers — were blocked by a coalition of farm-state lawmakers, including both Lugar and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats.