The Senate unanimously confirmed Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, NC, to succeed Ray LaHood as secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the safety of the nation's natural gas and hazardous pipeline infrastructure, as well as roads, airports and railways.The chamber voted 100-0 for Foxx, unusual for a Cabinet position and the Senate as a whole. President Obama nominated Foxx, the youngest mayor of Charlotte and the city's second African American mayor, in April to succeed LaHood. LaHood was named transportation secretary in January 2009. During his term, there were three major explosions on natural gas pipelines: in San Bruno, CA; Allentown, PA; and Sissonville, WV (see NGI, Sept. 13, 2010, Feb. 21, 2011, Dec. 17, 2012). The series of incidents has led to more rigorous regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency of DOT.
Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) Chairman Barry Smitherman plans to run for Texas attorney general (AG) in 2014 if current AG and fellow conservative Greg Abbott does not seek re-election. An AG's office headed by Smitherman would be pro-drilling and a staunch opponent of federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation. In a video posted to his website, the Republican said while he's chaired the RRC, the agency has "issued more drilling permits" leading to "a dramatic increase in jobs. I stood up to President Barack Obama and his job-killing policies and sued Obama's EPA seven times to protect Texas jobs and energy for our families."
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