PRESIDENT AND SAM BODMAN
Ron Edmonds  /  AP
President Bush announces Sam Bodman as his nominee for energy secretary at the White House on Friday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/10/2004 11:27:59 AM ET 2004-12-10T16:27:59

President Bush on Friday nominated Sam Bodman, currently a deputy secretary at the Treasury Department, to be his next energy secretary, replacing Spencer Abraham who last month announced his resignation.

Bodman “has shown himself to be a problem solver who knows how to set goals and knows how to reach them,” Bush said at an announcement ceremony in the Roosevelt Room.

Bodman said he wanted 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.”

The nomination leaves one major opening in Bush’s 15-member Cabinet: a candidate to replace Tommy Thompson as secretary of health and human services. Nine members of Bush’s Cabinet are leaving and six are staying in a major overhaul of the president’s team for his second term.

Challenges in Congress
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 an Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.

Bush said his priorities for the department are to “develop and deploy the latest technology to provide a new generation of cleaner and more efficient energy sources” and to “promote strong conservation measures.”

“We will bring greater certainty of cost and supply and that certainty is essential to economic growth and job creation,” he said.

Bush pledged to renew his push for legislation codifying the energy plan he unveiled 3½ years ago, stymied by lawmakers despite Republican domination of Capitol Hill.

Bodman also will have to find a way to untangle 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.

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The Energy Department manages the nation’s emergency petroleum reserve. Despite frequent calls by some Democrats to use some of these reserves to ease prices, the administration has argued repeatedly the stored oil should be used only in time of severe shortages.

Government, industry background
Bodman has been at Treasury since last February. He previously served as a deputy secretary at the Commerce Department.

A biography on the Treasury's Web site describes Bodman as "a financier and executive by trade, with three decades of experience in the private sector."

Bodman is a chemical engineer by training, and later taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His business background includes working at Fidelty Investments, becoming its president in 1983.

In 1987, he joined Cabot Corporation, a Boston-based chemical company.

Bodman said his new job would “combine all aspects of my life’s work.”

“Each of these activities dealt with the financial markets and the impact of energy and technology on those markets,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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