Industry rallies behind Landrieu-led panel

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Sen. Mary Landrieu starts her chairmanship on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.

Hours after being notified that she would take the helm, the Louisiana Democrat shared the news with a room full of utility regulators Tuesday morning.

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"I was just told I will be head of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 1 p.m. today," Landrieu said on Tuesday.

And the oil-and-gas industry, along with coal advocates, let its excitement be known.

“She has been an outspoken critic of EPA’s misguided carbon regulations, often breaking with party lines in order to voice her concerns about the rules’ devastating economic consequences," the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said in a statement. 

"We hope Senator Landrieu’s chairmanship will inspire a new era of bipartisan cooperation between both chambers of Congress in defending the American people and the American economy against President Obama’s dangerous and reckless carbon rules," the group continued. 

Landrieu's willingness to break with those party lines and align herself with Senate Energy Committee ranking member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) might be what keeps her from losing her seat.

It will be a difficult battle come November as billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate Action group has shown it is willing to target Landrieu even as Democrats are on the edge of losing the Senate during the midterms.

Still, Landrieu's energy focus could prevail despite blows from the green base.

Top oil lobby American Petroleum Institute said Landrieu's chairmanship comes at a "critical moment for U.S. energy policy."

Landrieu has already expressed a desire to push Keystone XL approval, opening up the ban on crude oil exports, and more.

Landrieu and Murkowski have yet to discuss what is at the top of their priority list but Murkowski said on Tuesday that the election year will make it difficult to get more controversial policies passed.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the former head of the committee, will move to take the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee upon Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) resignation to become the U.S. ambassador to China.