Sens.-elect Heinrich, Hirono to join Energy committee

As expected, leadership officially announced Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would take the gavel from the outgoing Bingaman.

Green groups went all-in on Heinrich during the 2012 campaign. They hoped to keep Bingaman’s seat in environmentally friendly hands, viewing Heinrich as a champion of their causes.

Those groups coordinated spending and got into the race early, helping put daylight between him and former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) in what was initially considered a close contest.

Shaheen’s exit, along with that of Bingaman, removes one of the more vocal energy efficiency advocates from the committee just as lawmakers are signaling the issue could gain traction next Congress.

Shaheen co-sponsored comprehensive energy efficiency legislation with committee colleague Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The bill has not received a vote.

Many of the bill’s concepts earned bipartisan praise from both House and Senate members in recent weeks. Several lawmakers have recently expressed optimism about moving a broad energy efficiency bill next session.

Democratic leadership also announced Wednesday that Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works assignments would remain the same.