Reid Touts His Credentials in Push for Energy Bill

Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:14am

Updated: 1:38 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, noting his past tenure on the Environment and Public Works Committee, again touched on the Gulf Coast oil spill Tuesday as he continues his push to take up energy legislation.

“I’ve watched very closely the oil spill in the Gulf,” the Nevada Democrat said. “But I say to everyone within the sound of my voice you don’t have to have long-standing experience on the Environment Committee to understand how terrible this has been to the environment.”

Reid also blasted the oil company BP for “gross negligence” in ensuring the safety of its employees working off the Gulf Coast. Eleven workers perished in the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April, which prompted Reid to point out that “the one thing we tend not to focus on very much is the loss of life.”

Reid, who is up for re-election this year, has renewed his push on energy reform. He is set to meet this week with relevant committee chairmen to discuss a path forward on energy legislation, and he will raise the topic before the full caucus next week.

The Senate is also poised Thursday to take up a resolution by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The resolution has 41 co-sponsors and needs 51 votes to pass, and it remains uncertain whether the measure will meet that threshold. Additionally, President Barack Obama threatened to veto the resolution in a statement released Tuesday.

Murkowski is ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and she has maintained that the Senate should take up legislation approved by the panel last year that won bipartisan support. However, that measure was relatively narrow — it would require an increase in electricity generated from renewable sources — and was viewed as only one component of broader climate legislation.

Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) suggested Monday
during an MSNBC interview that the Energy Committee’s proposal would serve
as the base bill on the floor, and the climate change legislation authored
by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) would be offered
as an amendment. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Schumer noted that “I threw
that out as one alternative,” but that the path forward remains unclear.

“We’re united in getting a really strong energy bill that includes climate
change,” he said.

Democrats will have to find at least some GOP support for any climate bill
that might find its way to the floor. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who
served as the lead GOP negotiator on the issue for months, left bipartisan
talks with Kerry and Lieberman in late April.