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Senate Shuffle Could Put Oil Industry Ally at Top of Energy Panel

Jennifer A. Dlouhy | FuelFix

19 December 2013

President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate Sen. Max Baucus to be the next U.S. ambassador to China set off a chain of events that could put an oil and gas industry ally in charge of the Senate energy committee.

If Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) takes the gavel of Energy and Natural Resources, it could hasten a looming debate over exporting American crude and ease congressional pressure on the Energy Department to move slowly in approving foreign sales of liquefied natural gas. But her ascendancy still wouldn’t mean a slam dunk for the oil and gas industry and its wish list on Capitol Hill.

If Baucus were nominated and confirmed for the post — both of which seem likely — it would open up the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus has held since 2007.
Although Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is next in line for the Finance Committee gavel, he is retiring and probably will stay in the top post at the Commerce Committee instead. If so, the Finance chairmanship would almost certainly end up going to the third-ranking Democratic senator on the panel, Ron Wyden, of Oregon, who has been chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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