SALT LAKE CITY — The nation cannot abide a "patchwork" of 50 different state immigration laws but U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson says it is unlikely Congress will take on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform any time soon.

"It's safe to say in this session of Congress there is no robust agenda when it comes to immigration reform," Matheson, D-Utah, told members of the Utah Senate Tuesday morning.

"I say that with some disappointment."

The issue has been "held hostage" by various political interests in Washington, D.C., to leverage support with various constituencies.

"We have to get past that," he said.

Matheson, who also addressed the Utah House of Representatives Tuesday morning, said he is "bullish" about development of the nation's energy resources and prospects for improved energy independence.

Matheson said he supports policies to increase natural gas production, along with geothermal, wind, solar, coal, oil shale and tar sands. The nation's energy policies should encourage careful development of new technologies and energy sources, then let the  marketplace ultimately decide, he said.

"Oil shale could truly be a game changer for America's energy supply," Matheson said.

Beyond producing needed energy, natural gas and oil production creates jobs, many of which support small businesses.

While speaking in House, Matheson, who is running in the new 4th Congressional District instead of seeking a seventh term in the 2nd District, lamented the lack of bipartisan cooperation in Congress.

“The problem is not the institution of Congress; the problem is the people there.” The problem is that “shrill and strident voices” have too much say in selecting who gets on the ballot.

The answer lies in broader involvement in the political process by citizens, not just in voting, but in selecting who will be on the ballot.

Contributing: Ladd Brubaker