Clinton nominates energy secretary
Jun 19, 1998
President Clinton has nominated Bill Richardson, US ambassador to the United Nations, to head the Department of Energy (DOE). Richardson will replace Federico Peña who is standing down after two years as energy secretary. Richardson was rumoured to be strong candidate because of his close links with New Mexico - a state with a large number of DOE facilities. It is believed that Richardson, a former Democratic representative from New Mexico, will use the post to help his political aspirations.
The move surprised observers. Most people expected Elizabeth Moler, Peña's deputy, to get the position because of her experience in a number of important issues. Over the next few months the DOE plans to increase competition in the US electricity market; increase shipments of nuclear weapon grade material from Russia to the US; and finally negotiate an agreement with US civilian nuclear power plants for the disposal of their radioactive waste.
But at a press conference yesterday, Richardson emphasize the stockpile stewardship programme (which maintains the reliability of US nuclear weapons), increased diversification from military research to the civilian sector, environmental clean-up of DOE laboratories, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Richardson's experience at the UN - where he tried to build a coalition to force international weapons inspection on Iraq - explains his interest in controlling weapons of mass destruction.
It will take serveral months for Richardson's appointment to be approved by Congress. Moler will take on the day-to-day running of the organization in his absence.