Senate Panel OKs Bush's Pick for U.S. Energy Secretary
WASHINGTON Sam Bodman, President Bush's pick to be the next U.S. energy secretary, was approved Wednesday by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
His nomination now goes to the full Senate for final approval, which is expected.
Bodman will leave his current post as U.S. deputy treasury secretary to replace outgoing Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, a former U.S. senator from Michigan.
Bodman, age 66, said at his confirmation hearing last week that he supports opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
The Republican-controlled Congress is expected to have enough votes to later this year give oil companies access to the Alaskan refuge.
Bodman said he generally supports a "balanced" approach in opening more federal lands to drilling that weighs environmental protection against the nation's growing need for energy.
Bodman said passing comprehensive energy legislation is among the most important matters before Congress this year, calling a stable supply of energy "the lifeblood" of the U.S. economy.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said on Monday that clearing an energy bill is one of the top ten legislative priorities for Republicans.
Bodman was a chemical engineering professor and chairman of Cabot Corp., a specialty chemicals company from 1987 through 2001.
Bodman was confirmed twice before for senior jobs at the Commerce and Treasury departments during the past four years.
The Energy Department, with a $23 billion budget, runs a network of nuclear weapons research laboratories and has over 100,000 employees and contractors.