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Secretary of Energy Nominee Samuel Bodman (2-2-05)

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Following the announcement by Spencer Abraham that he would retire as Secretary of Energy, President George Bush nominated Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel Bodman to be the new Energy Secretary. In remarks at the White House on December 10, 2004, Bush said: "Sam Bodman is an experienced executive who has served in my administration as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. During his varied and distinguished career in the private sector, Sam has been a professor at MIT, president of an investment firm, the chairman and CEO of an industrial company with operations worldwide. 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. He will bring to the Department of Energy a great talent for management and the precise thinking of an engineer. I thank him for agreeing to serve once again." The full text of Bush's statement and Bodman's response is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/12/20041210-3.html.

Recent Action

The full Senate confirmed Samuel Bodman as energy secretary by a unanimous voice vote on January 31st. He was sworn in on February 1st with a private ceremony. “It is a great honor and personal privilege to serve President Bush and the American people as Secretary of Energy,” Secretary Bodman said in a press release. “I look forward to working with the fine men and women of the Energy Department to advance this department's critically important missions, including preserving America’s pre-eminence in the physical sciences, ensuring the responsible stewardship of our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, advancing our international nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and ensuring reliable, secure, affordable and environmentally responsible supplies of energy for our growing economy.” (2-2-05)

Fifteen members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Sam Bodman for Secretary of Energy on January 26th. Committee Chairman Pete V. Dominici (R-NM) stated that Bodman's credentials as a former business executive and chemical engineer were "broad enough...to help us pursue good energy policy." (1/27/05)

Previous Action


On January 19, 2005 the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a confirmation hearing for Samuel Bodman, Bush's nominee for Secretary of Energy. Amid discussion of some of the most controversial and pressing environmental, economic and national security topics, Republicans and Democrats alike were courteous and offered the nominee their support.

In their questions to Bodman, Senators plied for his commitment to a wide variety of issues, ranging from the expansion of domestic nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas, to nuclear defense, climate change, and scientific research. Bodman pledged to maintain a "balanced approach" while pushing ahead with some of the president's major initiatives.

Bodman underscored his support of DOE science programs and the entire scientific community, regarding Los Alamos National Laboratory as the "crown jewels" of US scientific leadership. Highlighting his background as a chemical engineer and business executive, he called himself a "hands-on" manager and promised to be a "strong voice for the physical sciences."

The nuclear energy program and nuclear defense system were treated as important vehicles for fostering research, energy independence, and national security. Bodman addressed the nation's fear of expanded nuclear energy programs, prioritizing the construction of Yucca mountain waste facility along with supporting research for next-generation plants.

On domestic fossil fuel production, Bodman declared clean coal a "high priority" and pledged to support efforts to lift restrictions for oil and gas drilling on public lands, assuring Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) that he "expects to be an energetic advocate for ANWR drilling" and offered his enthusiastic support for Alaska natural gas pipeline. He also hedged these comments with assurances that his criteria for deeming a site appropriate for development involves equal regard to "supply, efficiency, infrastructure, new or renewable energy sources and environmental impact."

Bodman expressed cautious enthusiasm for renewable energy programs, stating that while wind power seemed to have a lot of potential, he found solar power to be "not as successful as I would have forecast." He agreed with Sen. Salazar (D-CO), however, that "we need to be more aggressive on these issues."

Declaring his unfamiliarity with the energy budget for 2006, Bodman could not speak to questions regarding levels of funding within the Department of Energy for key initiatives, such as nuclear waste and nuclear weapons programs. In response to Sen. Bingaman's (D-NM) charge to restore funding to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility, Bodman declared he would "follow the will of Congress and of the President and follow through on this issue." (1/20/05)

Background

Sam Bodman, President Bush's nominee to head up the Department of Energy, is the former Deputy Secretary of Commerce and current Deputy Secretary of Treasury. He has a strong background in chemical engineering at Cornell and MIT, and 31 years experience in the private sector as president of Fidelity Investments, and CEO of Cabot, a Boston-based chemicals firm. Bodman's experience in finance and management likely reflects the Bush administration's intention to prioritize the security of the nation's costly nuclear defense system, which consumes more of DOE's budget that any other energy program.

As the Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bodman had specific oversight over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Bodman has appeared before congressional committees three times to address controversial issues; first in March 2003 to defend the administration's termination of the Advanced Technology Program before the House Science Committee, and again in July to testify about the administration's "Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program."

A brief biography for Bodman can be read at http://www.treas.gov/organization/bios/bodman-e.html.

Sources: Department of Energy, E&E Daily, Greenwire, hearing documents, White House, and Washington Post.

Contributed by David Millar, 2004 AGI/AAPG Fall Semster Intern; Katie Ackerly, 2005 AGI/AAPG Spring Semester Intern

Background section includes material from AGI's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Update for the 108th Congress.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Last updated on January 27, 2005.


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