A coalition of 15 environmental, labor and renewable energy groups and businesses Friday sent Reid a letter urging him to at least include a renewable electricity production mandate as part of an evolving oil spill response and energy provisions he will introduce in the coming days and expects to move on the floor this week.
“Without immediate passage, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and surrendered to other countries forever,” according to the letter from the Blue Green Alliance, United Steelworkers, Sierra Club, American Wind Energy Association, Xcel Energy and 10 others. A mandate “would provide a down-payment on carbon reduction goals, save and create jobs, and keep America competitive,” they wrote.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave bipartisan support last year to a mandate requiring electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from sources like wind, solar and geothermal by 2021. Utilities are allowed to meet a fourth of that requirement through energy efficiency measures.
But while Reid has long advocated a mandate that would boost such key renewable industries in his state, he also faces pressure to get something through the Senate addressing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the remaining couple of weeks before senators head home for the summer.

Many Republicans are insisting on approving a “clean energy” mandate that includes new and existing nuclear production, a controversial request that would turn off liberals. Southeastern lawmakers in both parties have also argued that their region does not have the renewable resources to meet a national mandate.

Reid is instead coupling spill provisions with relatively non-controversial energy and conservation items — including boosting residential energy efficiency and converting large trucks to natural gas — and has predicted he will get 60 votes for what he will bring to the floor.