Bush Nominates Sam Bodman as Energy Secretary

Bush Surprises Energy Industry with DOE Nominee (Reuters)

President Bush on Friday nominated a senior Treasury Department official to be the next U.S. Energy Secretary, a surprise choice of a former chemical engineer with relatively little energy experience. The nomination of Sam Bodman, who is now deputy Treasury Secretary, would leave just one cabinet post unfilled for Bush’s second term. Bodman, 66, would replace Spencer Abraham, a former senator from Michigan, who also lacked energy experience before he became head of the Energy Department and its $24 billion budget.

Bush said Bodman, who is also a former deputy secretary at the Commerce Department, would bring great talent to the Energy Department. “We’ll pursue more energy close to home in our own country and in our own hemisphere so that we’re less dependent on energy from unstable parts of the world,” Bush said in a brief appearance to announce the nomination. Bodman said he looked forward to the challenge. “If confirmed by the Senate, my colleagues and I at the Department of Energy stand ready to carry forward 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,” he said.


Energy industry lobbyists and analysts expressed surprise at the choice of Bodman. “Sam who? I’ve never heard of this guy,” said one energy industry lobbyist, who added Bodman was virtually unknown to Washington energy policy insiders.

I’ve never heard of this guy, either. He is, however, a former professor of chemical engineering at MIT, so it’s no as if he’s some political hack with no clue about the issues.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. kappiy says:

    Bodman had been Commerce’s PR guy on environmental issues. He also worked some on the federal “Climate Change Program”–a wonderful document in scientific cluelessness if there ever was one.

    Don’t expect Bodman to take the global energy crisis seriously. If a seasoned politican like Abraham wasn’t able to accomplish anything at Energy, this Bodman guy certainly won’t. That’s precisely why he was hired.

  2. RE Gardner says:

    “Energy” is a partial misnomer for this position. Well over half the budget is managing the nuclear infrastructure of the country, to include the nuclear warheads (but not their delivery systems). And all the controversy is over problems in the academic citadels of the nuclear labs, which have mostly been to date managed by the University of California system (out of UC Beserkly – sorry, UC grad, I can say that). (Sandia and IL being the exceptions).

    So things are not as they appear – this is really not so much about energy (like any cabinet official can control the price of oil), but the media jumps on that in ignorance; Secretary of Energy must be about Energy. It is really about pacifying the academics (AKA white collar welfare). A politician will do, as will an academic. It is ludicrous to think an energy person would fit this billing. What do they know about the nuclear waste cleanup in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, …….

    What have you heard about the Dept of Energy in the past? The price of oil, OK. Then leaks from Los Alamos, China getting secrets, bad security, bad security, uncertain nuclear stockpile, warmongers wanting to build a “new” less-destructive bomb, nuclear cleanup in dozens of sites….. My point is someone from the energy industry is the last person you want in the position, because that is not what “Energy” does. It is Orwellian newspeak. So what if the supposed folks in energy that the reporter interviewed had never heard of him – what did they expect, the CEO of one of the descendents of Standard Oil? (Conspiracy theory, the Rockefellers are behind it all, LOL)

    In my view, a Professor of Chemistry is better suited to this position than Hazel O’Leary, Secretary during the Clinton Administration. (I’ll leave it at that, but based on personal experience, she was the most useless cabinet Secretary in the last decade, way out of her league. I don’t pretend to be at that level, but she should never have been there.). So what if we haven’t heard of him. There are lots of competent folks who aren’t in the public eye. And Donald Trump isn’t the greatest businessman out there, he s just the one that has the hype.

    I just aired a small part of what has been going on in the national labs for the past 20+ years – what I put above is by no means complete. But I’ve been on the military side of this, and have seen the issues.

  3. Yeah, I read some interesting info about Bodman at a journalist’s blog. She challenged his credentials and some schmo who worked with the guy years ago wrote to her at the blog, swearing she was nutzo and that Bodman would be potentially the most environmentally minded guy in Bush’s cabinet