Sen. Mary Landrieu tapped to head powerful Energy committee

Sen. Mary Landrieu was named Tuesday to lead the powerful Senate committee that oversees the energy industry so important to Louisiana’s economy.

The Senate Democratic Caucus voted the Louisiana Democrat as chairwoman to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Senate will take a formal vote Thursday on an organizational vote and Landrieu will officially take the helm of the committee.

“Today, we find ourselves in the midst of an energy revolution that has the potential to grow and expand the middle class in this century,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement. “When we tap into energy here at home, we produce high-paying jobs right where we need them. These jobs pay the kind of wages and salaries that allow families to buy homes, save for the future and build wealth.”

Landrieu said she would focus on policies that increase domestic energy production and expand the infrastructure that connects producers and refiners. She supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would ship crude oil and byproducts from the sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast via Port Arthur, Texas.

The last senator from Louisiana to be in charge of the committee that oversees policies governing one of the largest industries in the state was J. Bennett Johnston, of Shreveport.

Johnston chaired the committee between 1987 and 1995.

Louisiana contains just under 10 percent of all known U.S. oil reserves, is the country’s third-largest producer of petroleum, and produces just over one-quarter of the nation’s natural gas, according to the state Division of Administration. The 16 refineries in the state produce about 600 petroleum products and about 15 billion gallons of gasoline annually.