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Tuesday, 27 May 2014 11:24
No Coasting for Landrieu, Focus on Senate Energy Chair, Sec. Moniz
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landrieuToday, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources US Senator Mary Landrieu is visiting her home state of Louisiana. The visit is a part of her "Coast on Call: Energy for Today and Tomorrow" tour with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. 

In the morning, Landrieu and Moniz will be present at a public meeting on the Dept. of Energy Quadrennial Energy Review. The meeting is open to the press and will be held at LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans. 

After the meeting, Landrieu and Moniz are visiting Port Fourchon, the country's leading energy supply port. In the afternoon, the two are visiting Port of Iberia, an energy fabrication port and production site of offshore platforms. 

In an interview with Philip Rucker from The Washington Post, Mary Landrieu talked, among other things, about her chairmanship in the Senate Energy Committee. She argued that through her chairmanship, the people of Louisiana "sit at the the head of the table with the gavel" and that the state "should really think carefully about [that] before giving up" (referring to her upcoming reelection). She also emphasized her willingness and ability to work across party lines as an important reason why people should vote on her. 

Landrieu delved deeper into the importance of energy for Louisiana. She said that Louisiana has played an important role in developing technology for the oil and gas industry. Furthermore, oil-, gas-, and petrochemical industry employs 300,000 people, making it one of the cornerstones of the state economy. The Gulf Coast, she said, is "America's energy coast." 

On Sen. Landrieu's agenda is the infamous Keystone XL project. The project has not yet received the green light from the Obama administration, and it has been criticized by environmentalists. Landrieu asserted that her first goal is to get it voted on in the Senate. She admitted that it will take time, but that supporters of Keystone XL will "continue to push." 

There is no doubt that Mary Landrieu faces a tough reelection campaign. Republicans and conservatives keep pounding her, mostly for her support of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, but also recently for her inability to push the Keystone XL through. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu’s main opponent, said: “We can have a trophy: Senator Landrieu’s from Louisiana, and she’s chair of the energy committee,” he said. “But we can’t even get a vote on the Keystone pipeline?” Yet Landrieu also have her supporters, also among Republicans. One of them is Mark Miller, president of the Louisiana-based Merlin Oil & Gas, who has previously donated to several Republican campaigns. He said: “With her seniority, she is able to steer the energy agenda under the current administration and protect the oil and gas interests for our business. She’s gone to bat for us for years. It would leave a huge vacuum if we had to start over again.” Another supporter is Boysie Bollinger, the ship magnate who starred in a Landrieu TV ad, stating: “Louisiana can’t afford to lose Mary Landrieu. [Her energy committee post] means more boats, more jobs and more oil and gas. She does big things for Louisiana.” 

Which side the voters are going to land on remains to be seen. The current polls do not promise Sen. Landrieu a bright future. In order to win the first round, she needs to get at least 50% of the votes, and according to the numbers, she’s not there. More than likely, she and one more candidate - probably Bill Cassidy - will proceed to a second round in December. The outcome of that election does not only carry significance for Louisiana, but also for the nation. Many believe that the control of the U.S. Senate depends on the Louisiana U.S. Senate race results.

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