Reid: Dems hope to make energy one of their ‘signature issues’ after recess

Asked if the legislation might be based on bills considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Reid demurred. He touted what he called bipartisan cooperation on the panel, but did not say whether he would bring energy legislation considered by the committee to the floor.

“That’s one of the few committees in the Senate where there’s been outstanding cooperation with the chairman and ranking member,” Reid said, referring to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Reid instead spoke in broad terms about some of his energy priorities, including building and lighting efficiency. Congress needs to act quickly to address those issues, he said.

“I’m disappointed that we haven’t done better,” Reid said.

But he acknowledged that many of the Democrats’ energy priorities face strong Republican opposition.

“We need to do more from the Washington level — and certainly we are going to try to do that — but it’s very difficult with the backwards-leaning House of Representatives that we have,” Reid said, criticizing the GOP for pushing legislation aimed at blocking or limiting energy and environmental regulations.

He also blasted House Republicans for working to repeal a 2007 law mandating more stringent light bulb efficiency standards.

In the Wednesday conference call, Reid touted an Aug. 30 energy summit in Las Vegas. The fourth annual National Clean Energy Summit, organized by Reid and the Center for American Progress, will feature speeches by Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), among others.