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Some people might think that this news might disappoint me, given that I am of course a partisan hack.
Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana will probably become the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee early next year, giving the gavel to a lawmaker with deep ties to home-state oil producers and refiners. The shift stems from President Barack Obama’s nomination of Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana to be U.S. ambassador to China, and the likelihood that the current energy panel chairman, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, will replace Baucus at the head of the Senate Finance Committee.
The energy committee’s top Republican, Lisa Murkowski, hails from another oil and gas producing state, Alaska. That may improve chances for bipartisan alliances around industry priorities such as expanded exports of natural gas sought by Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG:US) and Dominion Resources (D:US) Inc., as well as TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Actually, it pleases me greatly. Senator Landrieu’s weakness this election cycle is not due to her energy policy positions; it’s because she’s a Democrat who provided the crucial 60th vote on Obamacare. Trying to get out of the way of that rapidly-approaching career-killer – and trust me: Obamacare is hurting Democrats most wonderfully dreadfully – by embracing the Keystone Pipeline will be very useful to the GOP, without noticeably changing the electoral calculus. The truth of the matter is, Barack Obama rather badly wants to sign off on that stupid pipeline; the only reason that he hasn’t yet is because if Obama does then radical Greenies will rant and rave at the perceived slight to their religion. Better by far if the Senate gives him a fait accompli. The President can blame the Senate, and Senate Democrats can shrug and piously claim that none of the environmentalist faithful voted for the pipeline. Everybody wins. Well, except for Landrieu in the long term.
And radical Greenies, of course. And the best part? There’s no reasonable chance that the radical Green movement can actually stop Landrieu from becoming Energy chair in the first place. All bark, no bite from those guys.
Moe Lane (crosspost)