Policy: Environment & Energy

Sen. Mary Landrieu to be new Energy Committee chairwoman

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Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is set to be named the new chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, giving her a perch to advance policies that promote the oil and gas industry.

"Our people in oil and gas never thought this day would come where we had an abundance of supply, where the technology is pushing the limits of what we thought. And those limits are moving away," Landrieu said at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners winter meeting in Washington.

"There's a great supply, and there's also great pressure to make sure that as we produce this power we produce it in a way that's sensitive to the environmental challenges that we have,” she continued. “So let's not squander this moment."

Landrieu grabs the gavel at a time when she's facing a tough re-election challenge from GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. But her new position could buoy her chances, as it gives her an opportunity to push a coastal oil and gas revenue-sharing bill she's campaigned on in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Democrat will likely bring a different flavor to the committee compared with her predecessor, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who now takes over the Finance Committee with former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the previous chairman, now the ambassador to China.

Coming from an oil-patch state, Landrieu has long been an advocate for the oil and gas industry. She's championed expanding liquefied natural gas exports and has called for ending restrictions to crude oil exports, while Wyden has exercised caution on both issues.

Landrieu also has been a proponent of offshore oil and gas drilling, though many Democrats oppose the practice. She also has defended tax incentives for the oil and gas industry, a favorite target of Democrats.

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