Associations representing the natural gas industry hailed thenomination of Bill Richardson, currently United Nations envoy, assecretary of energy to replace Federico Pena who leaves the post atthe end of this month. President Clinton announced his intention tonominate Richardson Thursday.

Citing Richardson’s 14 years representing New Mexico in the U.S.Congress, George Yates, chairman of the Independent PetroleumAssociation of America, said he was “confident that Ambassador BillRichardson understands the importance of America’s domestic oil andnatural gas industry to this nation.”

“We are excited to see that the president has appointed assecretary of energy a strong, knowledgeable individual whounderstands the significance of energy to the economies of theUnited States and of the world,” said David Parker, president ofthe American Gas Association.

Jerry Halvorsen, president of the Interstate Natural GasAssociation of America labeled Richardson “a friend of the naturalgas industry who brings a wide range of experience and expertise tothe Energy Department.”

The head of the Electric Power Supply Association, Lynne Church,credited the New Mexico native with “Knowledge of energy issues,credibility on the domestic and international fronts, and thepolitical savvy to contribute to the critical energy policy issuesfacing DOE, not the least of which is bringing competitive reformsto the electricity industry.”

As a representative of a producing state, Richardson was aninvolved member of the House Energy subcommittee which went throughyears of machinations in the 1980s before finally passing awellhead natural gas deregulation bill.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank H. Murkowski said as soonas the nomination is received “I intend to move this nominationwith all deliberate speed.” He noted Richardson had been throughthe Senate confirmation process last year when he was approved forthe UN post. “Unless something unusual arises, I would againanticipate his confirmation.”

Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, however, said he would “aggressivelyoppose” the nomination even though he believes Richardson “iscertainly qualified to serve as secretary of energy.” Craig saidhis opposition is aimed at drawing the administration’s attentionto its “unconscionable” failure to deal with the problem of nuclearwaste. Craig said he would oppose any candidate for the job “untilthe Clinton administration gives the secretary of energy theauthority to negotiate a solution to the problem of nuclear waste.So far, the administration has refused to grant that authority.I’ll see to it that they face the consequences of that refusal.” Itwas not clear whether the threat meant Craig would put a hold on aSenate vote on Richardson.

©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. Thepreceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, inwhole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent ofIntelligence Press,Inc.