Potential Energy Secretary

 In elections, Energy
The Cabinet: Energy Secretary
By Coral Davenport, CQ Staff

Energy policy is at a crossroads, considering the major strategic and economic decisions ahead for the next Congress and administration. The Energy secretary drives those decisions, and is also in charge of planning and administering energy research and development programs. The department also directs efforts to safeguard the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, coordinates research and development of new nuclear weapons systems, promotes nuclear non-proliferation abroad and operates the civilian nuclear waste repository and the four regional power administrations.

For McCain

Heather A. Wilson

Congresswoman from New Mexico

Albuquerque’s House member since 1988 gave up the seat to run for the Senate this year and lost the GOP primary by 3 percentage points. But she’s still regarded in GOP circles as a political and intellectual force, especially on energy issues. As representative of a district that’s home to Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as a member of the Intelligence Committee, her experience dovetails with one of the Energy Department’s primary jobs: managing the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Her background as an Air Force veteran and former National Security Council staffer also gives her a background well-suited to the Energy job. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, she’s supported boosting nuclear energy, a high priority for McCain. Like McCain, she has not been shy about bucking her party’s leadership and says she has always regarded herself as an iconoclast who makes up her own mind.

R. James Woolsey

Former CIA director

Now the McCain campaign’s chief energy adviser, he’s gained attention in recent years for his efforts to portray the nation’s fossil fuel dependence as a national security threat, with frequent testimony to Congress and on major national panels. He is a vocal advocate of alternative energy and plug-in hybrid cars. He’s held presidential appointments under the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton and is closely identified with neoconservative leaders who pushed for war with Iraq and broader use of U.S. military power.

Frederick W. Smith

FedEx Corp. founder and chief executive

The national co-chairman of McCain’s campaign committee could be a wild-card pick for Energy. As head of a company that consumes an estimated $3 billion of fuel every year, he is a leading advocate of energy conservation, working with the group Environmental Defense to promote hybrid delivery trucks. His company also operates some of the country’s largest solar power installations and he has been profiled as a “highly visible leader on the topic of oil dependence” in the book “Freedom from Oil: How the Next President Can End the United States’ Oil Addiction” (written by Obama energy adviser and former assistant Secretary of State David B. Sandalow). Smith is also co-chair of the Energy Security Leadership Council, a project of the nonpartisan group Securing America’s Future Energy.

For Obama

Ernest J. Moniz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist

The professor served as undersecretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, as well as associate director for science in the president’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. His research has focused on theoretical nuclear physics, and while serving in the Energy Department, he also led a comprehensive review of the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program and served as the Secretary’s special negotiator for Russian nuclear weapons materials. That gives him background to guide the department’s management of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. It’s expected that in an Obama administration the department would expand its focus on energy policy and climate change, but Moniz has credentials there, too, as co-director of MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, which focuses the science of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Edward G. Rendell

Governor of Pennsylvania

If he helps Obama carry one of the biggest swing-state prizes in the election, he could have his pick of a number of administration jobs, even though his first choice for president was Hillary Rodham Clinton. First elected governor in 2002, he has made promoting alternative energy a cornerstone of his administration: he helped push through a law requiring that 18 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, backed by hefty funding for renewable energy infrastructure and green jobs. Those policies are right in line with what Obama has proposed doing nationwide.

Philip R. Sharp

Resources for the Future president

He was one of the most prominent forces in the federal energy and environmental policy debates during his 10 terms as an Indiana congressman, starting with his efforts in the late 1970s to usher Jimmy Carter’s energy package into law and continuing through the enactment of a sweeping 1992 law designed to address oil conservation, stiffen nuclear power plant licensing and promote alternative fuels. He rose to third ranking on the Energy and Commerce Committee before retiring in 1994. He spent most of the next decade at Harvard’s Kennedy School before taking over Resources for the Future, a highly regarded nonpartisan organization that conducts research on energy and environmental policy issues, in 2005.

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  • joshlearman

    I just found this information on Global Patriot – Quote below is taken from a recent keynote address given in front of the Detroit Economic Club, by Mr. Andrew Liveris, current CEO of Dow Chemical…If anyone should be named Secretary of Energy, it should Liveris, he knows, understands and implements!

    But don’t believe me – read what he says…

    “When it comes to energy, there’s no ideology among the American consumer. Almost everyone wants more conservation, alternative energy, greater fuel efficiency, and environmentally responsible offshore drilling to help us right now.

    And, yet, here we are … constrained by the old politics, separated by silos of thinking and ill-served by politicians intent on fighting the last war instead of the one in front of us.

    And what is most worrisome to me – what is most vexing – is that Washington doesn’t understand that the energy crisis isn’t just about energy. The energy crisis is also about jobs … about manufacturing competitiveness. And at its base, the energy crisis is an industrial crisis that is threatening America’s strength and standing in the world.

    Four years ago we at Dow proposed a way out of this. We proposed an Energy Plan with three key components.

    The first is to pass comprehensive federal goals on energy efficiency and conservation. To me, this is common sense.

    Now, I realize I’m in Detroit and energy efficiency goals sound like code words for new fuel standards. It’s heartening to see all the Big Auto’s developing new models to consume less fuel. But what I’m mostly talking about here is improving the efficiency of buildings.

    Consider this: buildings are responsible for 40 percent of our total energy use, 70 percent of our electricity use and 38 percent of our CO2 emissions. A combination of federal incentives and local energy efficiency building codes could lower all of those numbers and significantly improve this country’s energy security.

    A very achievable 25-percent improvement in the energy efficiency of our economy would save this country the equivalent of all of its oil purchases from the Middle East and be the foundation for a secure energy future. It’s the first and easiest step to implement.

    The second component is to increase and diversify our domestic energy supplies. This is simple logic.

    We have the oil deposits here. We have natural gas deposits. And we certainly have the coal reserves.

    We should be accessing – responsibly and safely – every source we have to produce as much energy as we can at home.

    We also have the best technology in the world. Why not use that to build new, safe nuclear power facilities? Why not begin – today – an Apollo-like R&D project to solve the carbon capture and sequestration question so we can use – safely and responsibly – that 200-year supply of coal beneath our feet?

    The third component of our plan is to accelerate the development of all alternative energy sources – including renewables – and provide the financial support on research and development to get us there.

    Given the situation we’re in today, it’s amazing to me that this Congress can’t even seem to pass an extension of the Renewable Energy Tax Credits and, as a result, is putting this country’s renewable energy industry – along with 100,000 jobs and $20 billion in investments – at risk.

    Congress should also live up to its commitment and fund the direct loan program it created last year to help lower the cost of capital so the auto industry can retool to make more fuel-efficient vehicles.

    The fact is we don’t need to limit our possibilities by limiting our choices. Solar. Wind. Biomass and other renewable and alternative supplies. We need them all. And we need them now.

    Will these give us energy independence? No.

    Energy independence is a pipe dream for the U.S. But these steps will help us achieve the more realistic goal of energy security.

    And, while I’m at it, let me remind you we have to do all of this within the context of reducing our carbon footprint. That’s why Dow – along with the Big Three automakers, other large and diversified companies and leading environmental groups – are members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and are committed to driving the Federal government to adopt measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    So there are three steps to Dow’s Energy Plan for America.
    Improve efficiency and conservation.
    Diversify domestic supplies.
    Find new alternatives and renewables.

    If we take these steps – in concert with one another – we can literally provide the fuel that will restore the power to American industry.”

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