LAS VEGAS " U.S. Sen. Harry Reid says he's putting all energy solutions up for discussion at an energy summit set to begin Monday, including one the Nevada senator rarely endorses.
"I'm not opposed to nuclear," Reid told reporters Friday as he touted the meeting of national energy experts and politicians in Las Vegas. "I just know that in most parts of the country we can't use it because of the water, it uses so much water."
The statement from a senator who's devoted much of his career to fighting a proposed nuclear waste repository in his state underscored what appeared to be the buzz words of the summit: bipartisan cooperation, wide-open discussion, fresh approaches.
"We're going to talk about anything that anyone wants to talk about at this conference," Reid said. "This is an energy summit to look at everything. ... There is no silver bullet."
The National Clean Energy Summit is hosted by Reid's Senate office, along with the liberal think tank Center for American Progress Action Fund and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to open the session with a keynote speech Monday night. Texas oilman-turned-windpower advocate T. Boone Pickens will speak Tuesday morning. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Utah Gov. John Huntsman also are slated to address the group.
Panel discussions include job growth in the renewable energy industry, improving efficiency for businesses, and government's role in encouraging a transition from fossil fuels.
The group will draft a series of recommendations and present them to the Democratic and Republican parties at their national conventions, "in the hopes that we will steer the energy policies of the next administration," said Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow at Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Although the pre-summit theme was bipartisan cooperation, Reid did not set aside politics for long.
The senate majority leader said he would support a compromise proposal that addresses a fight between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain has successfully used Barack Obama's initial opposition to drilling against his Democratic rival. But McCain hasn't taken a clear stance on the compromise.
Reid suggested he would force the candidate's hand.
"If he didn't like it, then we need to come up with something. Because Obama and McCain are members of the Senate, they should be required to vote on something this important."