- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 11, 2004

President Bush yesterday nominated a new energy secretary, leaving just two vacancies in a Cabinet that has undergone a 60 percent turnover since his re-election last month.

Mr. Bush picked Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to replace Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who resigned last month. The president hinted that he expects Mr. Bodman to push for oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

“We will pursue more energy close to home, in our own country and in our own hemisphere, so that we’re less dependent on energy from unstable parts of the world,” the president said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

“I’m optimistic about the task ahead, and I know Sam Bodman is the right man to lead this important and vital agency,” he added. “So I urge the Senate to confirm his nomination without delay.”

Mr. Bodman’s appointment leaves just two vacancies in the president’s Cabinet — a replacement for outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and for Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. The HHS opening may be filled by the government’s Medicare chief, Mark McClellan, brother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Mr. Ridge’s replacement, former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, withdrew his name late last night citing personal reasons.

Although Mr. Bodman, like the president, did not specifically mention ANWR, he left no doubt that he will push for the program, which is a key component of Mr. Bush’s stalled energy reform legislation.

“If confirmed by the Senate, my colleagues and I at the Department of Energy stand ready to carry forward your vision of sound energy policy,” he said, “and to work toward the day when America achieves energy independence.”

Mr. Bush pledged to renew his push for legislation codifying the energy plan he unveiled 31/2 years ago, which was stymied by lawmakers despite Republican domination of Capitol Hill.

The nominee also will have to find a way to untangle both legal and budgetary problems that have threatened progress on getting a nuclear waste dump built in Nevada. Congress this year refused to provide enough money to keep the Yucca Mountain waste-disposal project on schedule, and a federal court earlier this year ordered a review of proposed radiation standards for the site.

Congress for four years has tried and failed to enact energy legislation. Mr. Bush has vowed to press lawmakers next year to try again.

The administration in 2005 also will face continuing concerns about high oil prices and a winter that is expected to bring near-record high heating costs. Although crude prices have receded in recent weeks they remain unusually high, edging up on Thursday to $42.90 a barrel.

Mr. Bodman took over as Treasury deputy secretary last February after serving as deputy secretary at the Commerce Department.

At Treasury, he was charged with a range of matters, including making sure the economic recovery is lasting, stopping the flow of funds to terrorists and helping efforts to modernize the IRS.

“In academics, in business and in government, Sam Bodman has shown himself to be a problem solver who knows how to set goals and he knows how to reach them,” Mr. Bush said. “He will bring to the Department of Energy a great talent for management and the precise thinking of an engineer.”

The Energy Department manages the nation’s emergency petroleum reserve. Despite frequent calls by some Democrats to use some of these reserves to ease prices, the administration has argued repeatedly that the stored oil should be used only in time of severe shortages.

• This story is based in part on wire-service reports.


Energy secretary nominee

Born: Nov. 26, 1938, Chicago

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Cornell University, 1961; doctorate of science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1965

Family: Wife, Diane; three children; two stepchildren; eight grandchildren

Career highlights: Associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT, 1965-70; technical director of the American Research and Development Corporation, 1964-70; various positions with Fidelity Investments, including president and chief operating officer; chairman, chief executive officer and a director of Cabot Corporation, 1987; Cabot Corporation board of directors, 1988-present; deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 2001-04; deputy secretary of Treasury Department, 2004-present

Source: Associated Press

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