Abraham resigns from DoE

16 November 2004

Spencer Abraham handed president Bush his resignation as energy secretary on 15 November. The head of the US Department of Energy (DoE) told Bush that he wishes to spend more time with his family.

Abraham was senator for Michigan between 1995 and 2001 where he authored 22 pieces of legislation. In 1999 he unsuccessfully proposed to dismantle the DoE and came to joke about the apparent contradiction when he was appointed as head of the department in January 2001. He went on to hold the post longer than any before.

Abraham's tenure saw a huge increase in nuclear non-proliferation efforts and the beginnings of Bush's hydrogen initiative but also the USA's worst ever blackout, power shortages and the soaring of crude oil prices to $56 per barrel. He faced pressure, as will his successor, over proposed oil drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge and a series of problems with the Yucca Mountain repository project.

Bush may seek to appoint one Democrat to his otherwise Republicans-only cabinet, as he did in 2001, to gather Democratic senate votes and ease the path of the currently stalled Energy Bill. Potential successors to Abraham include:

  • Senator John Breaux: a Democrat from Louisiana, but observers think he may be committed to working as a lobbyist next year.
  • Tony Garza: current US ambassador to Mexico and former member of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry in the state where Bush served as governor.
  • J Bennet Johnson: the former Democratic senator of Louisiana, he has been a lobbyist for eight years and turned down the position in 2001.
  • Tom Kuhn: president of the Edison institute, a lobby group for electric utilities. Attended Yale university with Bush.
  • William Martin: served as deputy energy secretary under president Ronald Reagan.
  • Elaine Chao: currently serving as labour secretary.
  • Kyle McSlarrow: Abraham's current deputy, he already handles day-to-day affairs, is chair of the US-Russia Energy Working Group and well-liked in Washington.

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