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Richardson Visits Venezuela, Mexico; Names Staff

Richardson Visits Venezuela, Mexico; Names Staff

New U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said two important items he would be pursuing in his visits last week to Venezuela and Mexico would be the hemispheric integration of energy policy and the possibility of a common electric grid. He added it is highly significant and symbolic that this first official call on foreign governments as Energy Department head will be to the two Latin American nations most important to U.S. energy interests.

Richardson, briefing U.S. and foreign press in both English and Spanish before his departure last Monday, said this first visit will encompass a broad dialogue. Responding to questions about specific petroleum issues with the two nations, Richardson said "we want to see transparency and privatization around the world....We're in favor of fair and open competition and a fair shot for our companies."

But he also indicated he was aware of the sensitivity of some of the issues in the politics of each nation and did not want to appear to be interfering in their internal government affairs. "I know Mexico. I have dealt with Mexico on a host of political issues over the years, I know that one thing you don't do with Mexico is try to dictate or make strong suggestions. I don't want to complicate matters for Secretary Tellez with any statements where I suggest a course of action that Mexico might be considering."

Regarding the possibility for U.S. investment in natural gas production in Mexico, Richardson said he believed NAFTA had worked very well in the natural gas sector. "I'm not coming with any demands." He said he knew U.S. companies were interested in Mexican resources, but "I don't have any specific initiatives in that area," reminding that it is "my first official visit." There will be no company representatives accompanying the new secretary.

Richardson said he wants to work closely with Mexico on climate change issues. On the agenda are cooperation in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean power technologies.

Meanwhile, as the new secretary was hemisphere-trotting, DOE issued a list of 20 new appointments he has made at the agency, which are in addition to the seven already announced in his six weeks on the job.

Last week's appointments include David Goldwyn, counselor to the secretary; LeeAnn Inadomi, deputy chief of staff for administration and domestic policy; Rebecca Gaghen, deputy chief of staff for international policy; Calvin Humphrey, principal deputy assistant secretary, Office of Policy and International Affairs; Sarah Summerville, deputy director for small and disadvantaged business utilization; Stu Nagurka, deputy director, Office of Public Affairs; Isabelle Watkins, senior advisor for scheduling and advance. Previously Richardson had announced the appointments of Gary Falle, chief of staff; Melanie Kenderdine, senior policy advisor for oil and gas issues; Richard Farrell, director of human resources and administration; Lawrence H. Sanchez, director of the Office of Intelligence; Dan Adamson, deputy assistant secretary for utility technologies, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Roger M. Gallagher, special executive advisor to the assistant secretary for fossil energy; and John M. Gilligan, chief information officer.

It may take even more than those, however, to keep up with Richardson, who so far has been the most active DOE leader Washington has seen in at least the last 15 years. The question is whether to believe the rumors that he will be angling for a vice presidency in next year's national election.

Ellen Beswick

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