Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is set to take the gavel for the Senate Energy Committee next week and the oil and gas industry will be getting an ally atop a powerful committee. Given its huge presence in her state, the Louisiana Democrat has long been a supporter of expanding oil and gas drilling. She has sat on the Senate Energy Committee for some time, but with Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) departing for the Finance Committee, Landrieu takes over at an interesting time for U.S. energy policy.
Her ascent to the top of the Energy Committee is, in part, politically motivated – as a Democrat in a conservative state she faces a very tough re-election battle this year. Democratic leadership hoped that by elevating her to the top of the Committee, it will not only provide her a perch on which she can push an energy agenda that will play well in Louisiana, but she can also make the argument to voters that she is more valuable to Louisiana than a freshman Republican who would start at the bottom of the totem pole. The oil and gas industry seems to agree, helping her outraise her opponent by a margin of 2-to-1. The industry is the second largest contributor to both campaigns, but has given more to Landrieu.
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With the top spot on the committee, she will likely work to liberalize oil and gas exports as one of the first orders of business. Congress – and the public – have been embroiled in a debate over whether or not to allow greater exports of LNG, as well as repealing the ban on exporting crude oil, both of which are priorities for the industry. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the committee’s Minority Leader and a leading proponent of liberalizing fossil fuel exports, will finally have an ally on the committee.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com