Capitol Hill is about to experience a massive shuffle. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), current Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was recently nominated by President Obama to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus is expected to accept and be confirmed, and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are expected to fill the subsequent openings.
Senator Wyden, current Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is expected to take over for Senator Baucus, and Senator Landrieu for Senator Wyden. Although changes to the Finance Committee are anticipated, the changes to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee could have broad and lasting impacts on energy in the geosciences.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over the National Energy Policy, Department of Energy National Labs, Federal energy conservation programs and much more. During his tenure, which began in 2013 after the retirement of Senator Bingaman (D-NM), Senator Wyden has focused on many nontraditional energy sources. Landrieu, however, is an outspoken proponent of oil and gas development, especially on the outer continental shelf off the coast of her home state, Louisiana.
The new changes could occur as early as this spring.
Sources: E&E News, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senate Finance Committee
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill this December that will transfer the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior. The bill aims to cut spending and reduce duplication by consolidating the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce into a new agency called the Department of Commerce and the Workforce. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Dan Coats (R-IN) and James Inhofe (R-OK). The bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Sources: GovTrack, Senator Burr’s website