Business on Capitol Hill is slow this month, but politicians are still working hard around the country to promote their energy agendas. For Senate Majority Harry Reid the big event comes later this month, on Aug. 30, when he co-hosts the 4th Annual National Clean Energy Summit in his homestate Nevada. [Read more about energy and climate change.]
Green advocates can look no further than Las Vegas for their summer dose of clean energy. Along with the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Reid's hoping to show the conference attendees just what the clean energy industry's been up to lately. On a call with reporters Wednesday, Reid gave a preview of what to expect, while digging into his House Republican opponents in Congress.
For one, Reid says governors such as California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, Washington Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, and Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval will be on-hand to talk about clean energy efforts in the West.
Brown, for instance, told reporters about his state's private sector program to build 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020, whether distributed on rooftops or as part of what he says will be the largest central-based solar plant in the world. "We see it as saving energy, creating jobs, reducing pollution and also dealing with climate change," Brown said Wednesday. [See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will also be at the conference to flout the military's latest green energy initiatives. He says that the U.S. Marine Corps hopes to get half its energy by non-fossil-fuel sources by 2020. "We're saving lives by using alternative energy," he said Wednesday. "We import gasoline more than any single thing into Afghanistan. For every 50 convoys that the Marines escort in, we lose one Marine, either killed or wounded, and that's simply too high a price to pay."
Reid says that once back on the Hill in September, Democrats hope to make energy jobs a signature issue in the coming months. "I would hope that the Republicans will get off their kick of trying to do things that are message pieces of legislation and get to things that are very substantive," Reid said. "These message pieces of legislation that deal with the EPA—they should just forget about it and do things that will create jobs for our country." [Read how Republicans have attacked the EPA.]
But with the Environmental Protection Agency cast by many GOP lawmakers as a job-killing organization, it's doubtful Republicans will let up on their own energy agenda either come September.