US Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have unveiled a brand new climate bill, drawing both criticism and praise from US business and industry leaders.

The bill includes provisions for boosting nuclear power and offshore drilling in a bid to win votes from states whose economies depend on energy production.

Previous versions of the legislation had relied more on boosting alternative energy.

The legislation will also help establish a cap and trade system, in use across Europe and Australia, to reduce carbon pollution by electric utilities and factories.

Many US utilities with big investments in low-carbon nuclear power, natural gas, or wind and solar power hope to benefit from a crackdown on greenhouse gases.

In a statement issued today, Duke Energy president and CEO Jim Rogers welcomed the proposals that he said would “help create jobs, protect electricity consumers, make our nation’s energy supply more secure and protect our environment.”

It also gives our electric industry the policy roadmap we need to invest tens of billions of private capital to retire and replace aging power plant fleets with modern, efficient and clean plants, he added before urging senators to press forward with the plans quickly.

US non-partisan action group Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) also came out in favour of the bill. The group said it “commended Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman for including support for nuclear power in their energy and climate legislation.”

The bill has, however, come under fire by some groups including the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. In a statement, the group said “the draconian carbon reduction targets and timetables in this bill would trigger destructive change in America’s economic climate.”

President Barack Obama has welcomed a new US climate bill, saying he hoped to pass it this year as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico underlined the need for energy reform.