A major new energy bill won’t spur economic development and create new jobs, Republican Senators said Thursday during a public hearing.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act was being discussed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public works.

Republicans on the Senate committee expressed their fear that the so-called climate bill will kill U.S. jobs and relocate them overseas while imposing higher energy prices for consumers. Republicans estimate there would be a net jobs reduction of 2.3 million to 2.7 million if the bill is enacted, Senator James Inhofe noted.

In addition, Senate Republican members questioned why an unemployment insurance program, or federal assistance to relocate people who lose their jobs is included in the legislation.

If the bill actually creates jobs then there will be no need for any of these, a section on unemployment benefits, job relocation and all the rest of that, Oklahoma Senator Inhofe said during his opening comments at the hearings today.

The U.S. House of Representatives barely passed the climate bill June. The legislation is also referred to as the cap-and-trade bill or Waxman-Markey bill. Its goal is to cut carbon emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 through increasing clean energy generation and putting limits on emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and factories.

Democrats, on the other hand, sustained the bill will create clean energy jobs.

When we unleash the American innovative spirit, we will drive economic growth and create jobs and create whole new industries here at home. American entrepreneurs will create jobs, Chairman Barbara Boxer said.

Boxer also said the Senate will do more than protect consumers.

You are going to hear some widely different views on how much is going to cost consumers, Boxer told the panel. But we have the modeling and we know what it is, we know what the Waxman-Markey bill shows, Boxer added.

A guest panel included Harry Alford, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Julian Wong, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, John Krenicki, Vice Chairman for General Electric, and John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.