Rep. Archer Added to Roster of DOE Secretary Candidates
Retiring House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer
(R-TX) last week would neither confirm nor deny whether he would
accept the post of Energy Secretary in a Republican administration,
if Texas Gov. George W. Bush ultimately is declared the next
"I do not expect to be asked to be a secretary in a Bush
administration. [But] I'm honored that my name has been floated,"
Archer, who is retiring from Congress after 30 years, said at the
Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, D.C. last Monday.
When asked if this meant he would flat out refuse the Department
of Energy (DOE) post if offered it by Bush, he told NGI, "I'm not
going to try to speculate on anything. I'm not campaigning for a
cabinet position in [the Bush] administration."
This scenario, of course, hinges on Bush winning the 25
electoral votes in Florida, which at press time Friday still were
up for grabs. Even if Bush wins, some have speculated he might pick
Democrats for a few cabinet posts, such as DOE secretary, in an
attempt to heal the deep partisan wounds in the nation. That might
place Archer, a Republican, low on the list of potential candidates
for DOE secretary.
Other names being mentioned for DOE secretary under a Bush administration include
former Sen. J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana; former Sen. David Boren of Oklahoma,
who is now president of Oklahoma University; and Reps. W. J. "Billy" Tauzin
(R-LA) and Michael G. Oxley (R-OH). All four men are highly regarded in Washington
and have worked well with the energy industry (See NGI, Nov.
13). Tauzin and Oxley reportedly both are seeking the chairmanship of
the House Commerce Committee.
Archer believes the energy industry will fare much better under
Bush than under Vice President Al Gore. He expects there will be
"some significant push" by a Bush White House to recognize and deal
with the problems facing energy.
In fact, "the way that we decide a realistic energy policy, I
think, will be a major topic in the next Congress," Archer said.
Although much of Congress will be divided along partisan lines in
the next session, he believes lawmakers will be able to come to
agreement on energy issues if they have "proper direction" from the
"We have a lot to do to bolster our domestic production," Archer
said, and "yes, we should do what we can to conserve" energy. He
said he thinks Bush "will do a good balancing" of the two, but he
doubts Gore would be able to do the same.
As a sign of this commitment, he pointed to Bush's pledge to
open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to greater oil and
natural gas development. "There's no reason why ANWR cannot be
developed in a way that it does not interfere with the
environment.It's the biggest thing that we can do to reduce
dependency on foreign [energy]."
For Gore to call ANWR a "precious landscape treasure," Archer
said, simply shows that he's never traveled to the region. Anyone
who's ever been there knows "it's the most godforsaken land" in the
entire United States, he noted.
On wider issues that have emerged from presidential elections,
Archer called "misguided" the ground swell of support that has
emerged for eliminating the Electoral College. "To me, there's no
other alternative that makes any sense," he told energy executives.
"You are inevitably going to enhance the viability of splintered
parties if you go [solely] to a popular vote. This country will be
more divided in a way that we have never, never seen." He believes
the next Congress "is going to be tied up on this issue in a