WASHINGTON – President Bush has named Samuel Bodman (search) as the new energy secretary.
Bodman, if confirmed, will take the place of outgoing Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (search), a former Michigan senator.
"In academics, business and government, Sam Bodman has showed himself to be a problem solver — he knows how to set goals and he knows how to reach them," Bush said while announcing his pick in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, adding that Bodman has a "great talent for management and the precise thinking of an engineer."
A number of potential candidates have been batted around in speculation, including New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson and former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux.
"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.
Bodman, an engineer, is the deputy secretary of the Department of Treasury; he was confirmed for that post on Feb. 12 of this year. He previously served as deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce, beginning in 2001.
The Department of Energy has responsibilities that "directly affect all Americans — from the security of nuclear facilities to reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation around the world, environmental cleanup to enhancing conservation and develop new sources of energy for the future," Bush said on Friday. "Every day, employees at the Department of Energy are working to protect the American people and to make sure our homes and businesses have reliable and safe sources of energy."
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 (search) in Alaska to oil drilling.
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 (search) waste project on schedule and a federal court earlier this year ordered a review of proposed radiation standards for the site.
Over the past four years, the president noted, the Energy Department, under Abraham's leadership, has taken "vital steps" to upgrading the nation's energy infrastructure, helped further efforts to produce hydrogen-powered automobiles and boosted cooperation between the United States and other government to help safeguard nuclear materials and fight proliferation.
"The nation is grateful" to Abraham and his service, Bush said. "Spence has shown himself to be a man of integrity and wisdom … [he's a] good man, a superior public servant and a good friend."
Bush said that during the next four years of his term, his administration will work "to continue to enhance our economic security and our national security through sound energy policy." That includes pursuing energy sources "in our own country and our own hemisphere so we're less dependent on energy from unstable parts of the world," the president added.
Congress for four years has tried, and failed, to enact energy legislation. Bush pledged to renew his push for legislation codifying the energy plan he unveiled 3 1/2 years ago, which was stymied by lawmakers despite Republican domination of Capitol Hill.
The administration will work toward finding cleaner, more efficient energy sources, will promote strong conservation measures and will work closely with Congress to further legislation that "moves America toward greater energy independence," Bush said.
"I'm optimistic about the task ahead and I know Sam Bodman is the right man to lead this important and vital agency."
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.
Born in 1938 in Chicago, Bodman graduated in 1961 with a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University. In 1965, he completed his ScD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the next six years, he served as an associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT and as technical director of the American Research and Development Corporation, a pioneer venture capital firm.
From there, Bodman went to Fidelity Venture Associates, a division of the Fidelity Investments. In 1983 he was named president and chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments and a director of the Fidelity Group of Mutual Funds. In 1987, he joined Cabot Corporation, a Boston-based Fortune 300 company with global business activities in specialty chemicals and materials, where he served as chairman, CEO, and a director.
Bodman also is a former director of M.I.T.'s School of Engineering Practice and a former member of the M.I.T. Commission on Education. He also served as a member of the Executive and Investment Committees at M.I.T., a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a Trustee of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the New England Aquarium.
Bodman is married to M. Diane Bodman. He has three children, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren. He and his wife reside in Washington, D.C.
The nomination leaves one 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.