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Reid: Energy revolution happening, but too slowly

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 2:35 p.m. MDT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, looks over a Nissan Leaf electric car as John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, speaks during a news conference previewing the National Clean Energy Summit, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 in Las Vegas. The summit will take place on Tuesday.

Julie Jacobson, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A clean energy revolution is under way in the United States but isn't happening quickly enough, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday.

Reid told reporters in advance of a clean energy summit in Las Vegas that the country is still too dependent on foreign oil and needs to change that to help national defense and the economy.

"Our dependence on foreign oil is making our nation less secure, and is certainly damaging the health of our citizens," he said.

Reid said he expects clean energy projects to be part of jobs bills the Senate will consider when it returns to session next week.

The Tuesday summit at the Aria Resort & Casino is expected to include Vice President Joe Biden, several governors and other influential policy experts, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

In addition to lawmakers trading ideas, previous summits have included announcements and discussions about investments in renewable energy.

John Podesta, chief executive of the Center for American Progress, said discussions at the summit have led to tax incentives for renewable energy and funding for transmission line projects in Nevada and elsewhere.

"I know that many of the ideas that will be developed over the next day or so will likewise be considered by Congress this year," said Podesta, a former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton.

Reid and Podesta spoke outdoors in a porte-cochere where automakers including Nissan, Toyota and CODA Automotive touted the latest models of zero-emission cars for city driving, and casino company MGM Resorts International showed off a charging station offered at two of its Sin City properties.

Reid said he expects Obama to speak soon in strong favor of a new push for patent reform that will create 200,000 jobs. But he said that and other initiatives have been hard to get through given Republican opposition.

"The tea-party driven Republicans — it's made it very difficult to get progressive things done for this Congress," he said.

Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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