New DOE Secretary Faces Confirmation Battle
While natural gas industry spokesmen hailed the nomination of
United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson to be secretary of
energy, a leading member of the Senate Energy Committee promised
roadblocks on the way to confirmation.
President Clinton last Thursday announced his intention to
nominate Richardson to replace Federico Pena who leaves the post at
the end of this month.
On the same day Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, said he would
"aggressively oppose" the nomination even though he believes
Richardson "is certainly qualified to serve as secretary of
energy." Craig said his opposition is aimed at drawing the
administration's attention to its "unconscionable" failure to deal
with the problem of nuclear waste. Craig said he would oppose any
candidate for the job "until the Clinton administration gives the
secretary of energy the authority to negotiate a solution to the
problem of nuclear waste. So far, the administration's refused to
grant that authority. I'll see to it that they face the
consequences of that refusal." A staff assistant confirmed the
senator intended to put a hold on the nomination, keeping the
Senate from voting, and would lobby his colleagues to join in
efforts to keep the DOE post vacant until authority over nuclear
waste accompanied the job.
Craig stressed that he had no objection to the nominee himself,
who also garnered industry-wide support.
Citing Richardson's 14 years representing New Mexico in the U.S.
Congress, George Yates, chairman of the Independent Petroleum
Assoc. of America, said he was "confident that Ambassador Bill
Richardson understands the importance of America's domestic oil and
natural gas industry to this nation."
"We are excited to see that the president has appointed as
secretary of energy a strong, knowledgeable individual who
understands the significance of energy to the economies of the
United States and of the world," said David Parker, president of
the American Gas Assoc.
Jerry Halvorsen, president of the Interstate Natural Gas Assoc.
of America labeled Richardson "a friend of the natural gas industry
who brings a wide range of experience and expertise to the Energy
The head of the Electric Power Supply Assoc., Lynne Church,
credited the New Mexico native with "Knowledge of energy issues,
credibility on the domestic and international fronts, and the
political savvy to contribute to the critical energy policy issues
facing DOE, not the least of which is bringing competitive reforms
to the electricity industry."
As a representative of a producing state, Richardson was an
involved member of the House Energy subcommittee and committee
which went through years of machinations in the 1980s before
finally passing a wellhead natural gas deregulation bill.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank H. Murkowski said that as
soon as the nomination is sent down from the White House "I intend
to move this nomination with all deliberate speed." He noted
Richardson had been through the Senate confirmation process as
recently as last year when he was approved for the UN post.
©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.