* President George W. Bush has selected Samuel Bodman to replace Spencer Abraham as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE). The Senate hearing to discuss Bodman's confirmation is expected to be held on Wednesday, January 19.
Bodman is a newcomer to energy policy, and particularly nuclear weapons policy, having served previously as deputy secretary of commerce and deputy secretary of the treasury. If confirmed, Bodman will be responsible for the energy bill, which has stalled in Congress due to controversial measures that include offering billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil, coal and gas companies and proposals for new nuclear reactors.
Bodman will also oversee the nuclear weapons complex, including weapons program initiatives, funding allocations and cleanup activities at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.
Bodman received his doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a professor of engineering there. Prior to his positions in the Bush Administration, he was the chief executive officer of the specialty chemical maker Cabot Corporation. When announcing his nomination, Bush said, "In academics, in business and in government, [Bodman] has shown himself to be a problem solver who knows how to set goals, and he knows how to reach them. He will bring to [the DOE] a great talent for management and the precise thinking of an engineer."
Activists are concerned, however, that Bodman's inexperience in energy and weapons issues may hinder his performance as DOE Secretary. They are requesting that Senators ask Bodman several important questions during his confirmation hearing in order to gauge his knowledge of nuclear weapons policy and its associated environmental effects.
For example, activists are requesting that Senators question Bodman regarding his position on U.S. commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Specifically, activists are questioning BodmanÕs opinion of a recent Stategic Plan by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that states, "[The goal of the NNSA] is to be able to design, develop, and begin production of a new warhead within 3 [to] 4 years of a decision to do so."
Further, Bodman's position on the Modern Pit Facility is in question considering that its final environmental impact statement was delayed following serious concerns by Congress regarding its necessity and cost.
Activists locally are concerned about Bodman's potential handling of the upcoming request for proposal for the management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Joni Arends, of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, said, "The management contract for a facility as complicated as LANL is extremely nuanced, and it may require the leadership of someone more familiar with those nuances."
Moreover, organizations in New Mexico want to be assured that Bodman will prioritize the cleanup of LANL under the Order on Consent released by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) recently, which orders the investigation and clean up of contamination sources around the LANL complex. Arends said, "The process established by NMED is essential to protecting the health and safety of New Mexicans and we want to be assured that Bodman will prioritize DOEÕs compliance with it."