Pelosi lauds vulnerable Rep. Perriello’s ‘courage’ in backing climate bill

More broadly, many Republicans are seeking to transform their opponents’ support for climate bills into a liability on the campaign trail.

But Perriello has defended his vote for the bill, which supporters say will make the U.S. competitive in the emerging “clean energy” economy, improve U.S. security and help avert dangerous warming.

Pelosi called him “a leader and advocate for accelerating the future” in her remarks at the ceremony for the Progressive Automotive X Prize award.

A team from Perriello’s district — which Perriello has lauded for “completely re-conceptualizing” autos — was the biggest award winner in the $10 million competition to create an advanced, highly efficient vehicle.

The House approved the sweeping cap-and-trade and energy bill on a 219-212 vote in June of 2009. But the measure collapsed in the Senate, and even a scaled-back version was not brought up for a vote.

Pelosi told reporters she remains hopeful that energy legislation can win passage this year.

Senate Democratic leaders have floated a narrow bill with provisions to boost deployment of natural-gas-powered trucks and electric cars and provide rebates for home energy-efficiency retrofits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is eyeing a vote in a lame-duck session.

Environmentalists and the renewable-energy industry are pressing for addition of a renewable electricity standard, which would require utilities to supply increasing amounts of power from sources like wind and solar energy.