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President Names Former Treasury Official As Energy Chief

BY Admin  December 10, 2004 at 1:48 PM EST

At an announcement ceremony in the Roosevelt Room the president called Bodman “a problem solver who knows how to set goals and … how to reach them.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Bodman’s major challenge will be to get Congress to enact energy legislation, including one of the president’s longtime goals of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.

Bodman also will have to find a way to resolve both legal and budget problems that have threatened progress on getting a nuclear waste dump built in Nevada. Congress this year refused to provide enough money to keep the Yucca Mountain waste project on schedule and a federal court earlier this year ordered a review of proposed radiation standards for the site.

Congress for four years has tried, and failed, to enact energy legislation. Bush has vowed to press lawmakers next year to try again.

The administration next year also will face continuing concerns about high oil prices and a winter that is expected to bring record high heating costs. Although crude prices have receded in recent weeks, they remain unusually high, edging up on Thursday to $42.90 a barrel.

Bodman would replace Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who resigned shortly after President Bush won a second term in the Nov. 2 election and began a sweeping overhaul of his Cabinet.

Nine Cabinet secretaries out of 15 have announced their departure. Friday’s nomination leaves one opening — a replacement for outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Administration officials have made clear that the president wants to have much of his Cabinet in place by Inauguration Day, to allow him to move on what he has described as an ambitious domestic agenda of revamping Social Security and the tax system.

Bodman took over as Treasury deputy secretary last February after serving as deputy secretary at the Commerce Department.

At Treasury, he was charged with a range of matters, including making sure the economic recovery is lasting, stopping the flow of funds to terrorists and helping efforts to modernize the IRS.

He has taught chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served as president of Fidelity Investments, and run a chemical company. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in chemical engineering in 1961 and has a doctorate in science from MIT.

“If confirmed by the Senate, my colleagues and I at the Department of Energy stand ready to carry forth your vision of sound energy policy to ensure a steady supply of affordable energy for America’s homes and businesses and to work toward the day when America achieves energy independence,” Bodman said Friday.