Monday, February 17, 2014

Mary Landrieu: New Chair of Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the new chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is very different from her predecessor, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has moved to chair the Senate Finance Committee.

Landrieu favors building the Keystone XL piepeline, protecting tax breaks or incentives for oil drilling, and placing limits on the power of federal agencies to set mercury or carbon dioxide guidelines for coal-fired power plants. Wyden takes the opposite position on all those issues.

Landrieu supports giving oil companies the right to export crude oil as well as natural gas, while Wyden supports giving natural gas export permits on a case by case basis and does not have a public position on crude oil exports.

Landrieu could try to obstruct some Obama administration initiatives, especially on coal plants. She could work with committee Republicans to fashion legislation closer to the oil and gas industry interests.

Landrieu also wants to increase the portion of federal royalties that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico coast.  All states get oil and gas royalties in water up to three miles from shore, but the federal government owns the waters beyond that point. She already led the successful fight in 2006 to get 37.5 percent of federal royalties on certain leases off the gulf states directed to those state governments and coastal restoration programs.  But in a compromise, the legislation imposed an annual $500 million cap on payments to the Gulf Coast producing states.

Landrieu has now introduced a bill that would lift the cap and shift revenue from the Treasury Department to the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. Her bill would also let inland states keep 50 percent of the royalty and rental payments on renewable energy produced on federal lands.

Here are some key differences between Landrieu and Wyden:

In 2012, Landrieu voted against a Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) bill to eliminate $2.4 billion in tax breaks for the big five oil companies; Wyden voted for it.

In 2010, Landrieu voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to set limits on the emissions of carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas. Wyden voted to maintain EPA’s authority.

In 2012, Landrieu voted to block new mercury and toxic emissions limits for power plants; Wyden supported the measures.

The League of Conservation Voters has given Wyden a 90 percent lifetime record and Landrieu 51 percent.
(Wash Post, 2/12/2014)

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