In a sign-of-the-times statement, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said yesterday that his committee would stop work on an energy bill for the rest of year to avoid “issues that divide, rather than unite us.” Prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, a sweeping energy package was a top congressional priority; now, broad legislation will probably be shelved until 2002, although the Senate may consider a more limited energy security bill. Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), who had hoped to secure committee approval of a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, criticized Democrats for closing down the discussions.