Sen. Coons leaves Energy panel for Appropriations, opens space for Markey

Polls show Markey leading GOP opponent Gabriel Gomez ahead of the Massachusetts special Senate election scheduled for Tuesday.

Markey has been active on climate change and clean energy issues in the House, which has earned him praise from President Obama, liberal Democratic lawmakers and green groups.

Markey, the House Natural Resources Committee's top Democrat, also has been a staunch critic of offshore drilling and BP’s response to its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

While the energy panel might be a natural fit for Markey, he also could slide onto the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to fill the vacancy created by the death of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Wednesday that she would be “thrilled” to have Markey on the panel.

Environment and Public Works oversees the Environmental Protection Agency — and all the air- and water-pollution issues that come with it.

— This story was updated at 4:23 p.m.