RMay 130826 2826The New York Times takes a look at the impact and influence U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu will have on the energy industry once she takes the reins as chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, a move expected to come this week. Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth, six-year term in the Senate, is facing a tough re-election battle, but the chairmanship could turn the tide in her favor.

The Times says Landrieu will become part of a long tradition of Louisiana lawmakers who rose to power in Washington and used their clout to help oil companies. Among them are former Louisiana Democratic Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, who was the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee from 1983 to 1997.

“It means a great deal,” Johnston told The Times of the energy chairmanship. “Oil and gas is No. 1 in Louisiana. Being chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction is just fabulously important for the state.”

Though a Democrat, Landrieu has strong statewide support from the oil and gas industry, support that has long extended to other energy-dependent states. The Times also spoke with Landrieu supporter Mark Miller of Merlin Oil and Gas in Lafayette.

"She believes wholeheartedly in our industry, and that’s good for Louisiana," Merlin Oil and Gas President Mark Miller says of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is set to become chair of the powerful Senate Energy Committee this week.

“She believes wholeheartedly in our industry, and that’s good for Louisiana,” Miller told the national newspaper. Although he is a Republican, Miller is supporting Landrieu. “I don’t support her on all the issues, but on this I do,” he said.

The piece also looks at Landrieu’s re-election (noting she and her PAC have together raised $8.8 million, more than double that of her chief rival, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge), support for exporting fossil fuels and trouble with environmentalists ­­— how she has moved some into her corner through her work to pass the Restore Act in 2012, which aims to send hundreds of millions of dollars from 2010 BP oil spill fines to Louisiana for coastal restoration projects.

The NYT says Landrieu is consolidating her energy influence, pointing out that on the Senate Appropriations Committee, she is in line as chairwoman of an obscure but influential subcommittee that would give her oversight of the Energy Department’s budget.

Read the story here.


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