Thursday, June 19, 2014

Even if the Democrats Keep the Senate, the Republicans Could Still Control the Energy Committee

After Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was confirmed as US Ambassador to China, the Senate had a game of musical (committee) chairs. Ron Wyden (D-OR) took over the Finance Committee from Baucus, and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took over the Energy Committee from Wyden.

Let's see what our new Energy chair has been doing lately.

Climate Progress, 6/9/2014
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is scheduled to hold an event at her state’s biggest coal-fired power plant on Monday, in a move designed to highlight her opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed limits on carbon pollution from coal plants.
Problem is, the coal plant she’s highlighting — the Big Cajun 2 power plant in New Roads, La. — is one of the nation’s dirtiest, most known for being the subject a high-profile U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit over its toxic emissions. What’s more, the CEO of the company that owns the plant recently said he believes that EPA should be regulating carbon pollution from coal plants, perplexing some as to why she chose to put a spotlight on that plant.

“It’s really weird that she would choose one of the largest polluters in the nation to highlight her opposition to these protections,” said, Jenna Garland, deputy press secretary at the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Based on the CEO’s public statements, I’m not too sure he’s going to be happy about this.”
Huffington Post, 6/18/2014
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would force approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. But the bill isn't expected to go up for a vote in the full Senate any time soon.
The bill, cosponsored by committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), passed on a 12-10, mostly party-line vote. Landrieu and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only two Democrats voting for it, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The bill's Democratic supporters also pledged to keep Keystone in the spotlight. "Today was the latest skirmish, and, unlike some, I'm not giving up until it is built," said Landrieu in a statement. "I’ve been in a lot of tough fights over the years, and the ones that matter the most are the toughest. I won’t give up on Keystone until we get it built, and I will press for a vote on the Senate floor."
The bill in question (S. 2280) is supported by the full Republican caucus but only 11 Democrats, including Landrieu. 

The other Democrats are Mark Pryor (AR), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Begich (AK), Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and John Walsh (MT).

A bill with the support of only 20% of the Democratic caucus can sail through the "Democratic"-controlled Energy Committee because the two most environmentally unfriendly Democrats sit on the Committee---and one of them is chair.

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