New Mexico's newly elected Gov. Susana Martinez has nominated former astronaut and U.S. senator Harrison Schmitt as the state's secretary for Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. The governor's announcement follows a decision to dismiss the state's environmental board tied to a cap-and-trade proposal in the opening days of her new administration (see Power Market Today, Jan. 10).

Martinez called Schmitt "a decorated public servant, scientist and businessman."

Schmitt is charged by the new governor to "harness and develop" energy sources in New Mexico as a means of reviving the state's sputtering economy and creating new jobs. "Sen. Schmitt's diverse background gives him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be helpful in guiding the responsible development and protection of New Mexico's diverse natural resources," Martinez said.

Schmitt's nomination is subject to confirmation by state lawmakers. He said he will work with the governor to "enhance New Mexico's potential" as "a leader in energy and natural resource development."

With an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology and a doctorate degree from Harvard University, Schmitt earned an Air Force jet pilot's wings in 1965 and Navy helicopter wings two years later. He participated in the National Aeronautical and Space Administration's scientist-astronaut program beginning in 1965, and provided support for the Apollo 11 mission, before flying into space as part of the Apollo 17 mission. He landed on the Moon in Dec. 11, 1972.

Earlier this month Martinez dismantled a board associated with the state's push to enter a regional cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, alleging that the effort was hurting the state's struggling economy.

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