WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Advocacy group Oil Change International said the Democratic pick to head a Senate energy panel, Mary Landrieu, has strong industry ties.
Senate Democrats agreed to have Landrieu, D-La., replace Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, online political news website Politico reported. Wyden moves over to chair the Senate Finance Committee.
Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said Landrieu's strong ties to the energy industry were problematic.
"Big Oil has been pursuing a 'buypartisan' strategy and it's likely to pay off with Senator Landrieu," he said in a statement Tuesday.
Oil Change International said Landrieu took on an average $500,000 a year in campaign contributions from the energy sector since she took office in 1997 compared with a Senate average of $392,000.
Last week, Landrieu was among a group of bipartisan senators expressing support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project favored policymakers supporting the U.S. oil industry.
Landrieu was quoted by Politico as saying she'd focus on "increasing domestic energy production and fortifying and expanding the infrastructure that connects producers, refiners and consumers" as chairwoman of the committee.
The full Senate votes on her nomination Thursday.