Embattled Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has made her position as Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee a center-piece of her reelection campaign, even staging a fake committee hearing intended to show her fighting for increasing energy production in the Senate.
But if she can’t get President Obama to approve a popular energy project that has cleared several environmental reviews conducted by the administration itself and is backed by organized labor, what juice does she really have?
The Obama administration announced Friday it was again delaying the Keystone XL Pipeline, prompting Landrieu to blast the decision as “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”
GOP critics are noting the decision undermines the core of her message to voters: that she’s well-placed to fight for the state’s priorities, especially on energy issues.
“President Barack Obama’s decision to punt on the Keystone XL pipeline proves that Senate Energy Chairwoman Mary Landrieu can’t get the job done for Louisiana,” RNC spokesman Raffi Williams said on Monday. “Vulnerable red-state Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and others will soon pay a political price for Barack Obama’s continued inaction on the Keystone pipeline.”
Approval for the pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada to refineries in the US, including Louisiana, had already been cleared by the State Department. The cabinet agency had jurisdiction because the pipeline crossed an international border.
Top labor union officials support construction of the pipeline and called the Obama Administration’s decision to delay approval “gutless.” Even prominent Obama supporter, investor Warren Buffett called construction of the pipeline a “good idea.”
Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, however, is a very vocal opponent of the pipeline. He has promised to spend upwards of $100 million to assist Democrats in the midterm elections. His number one priority is blocking the Keystone pipeline.