Bush picks Sen. Abraham to be Energy Secretary

President-elect George W. Bush has selected Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) to be his Energy Secretary. A one-term senator, Abraham was defeated in a close re-election contest last November.

President-elect George W. Bush has selected Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) to be his Energy Secretary.

A one-term senator, Abraham was defeated in a close re-election contest last November.

Bush said, "Sen. Abraham knows the issues of energy policy, and he understands the opportunities and challenges before us. He's ready to join me in seeking energy security for the US. We understand our national security depends upon energy security.

"In Michigan, during the campaign, I pledged a comprehensive energy policy for our country. I look forward to working with Sen. Abraham to make sure that energy is available and affordable for all Americans. We must meet rising demand for energy with new domestic exploration and production. We must produce and conserve all forms of energy in America. And we must do so in an economically sound and environmentally sensitive way."

Abraham said, "I think it is a testament to the special place that America is, that the grandson of four Lebanese immigrants can have the opportunity to serve in the cabinet of the president of the US. I'm very proud to have been given this opportunity.

"As we know, many significant Energy Department-related issues face us at this time, ranging from the adequacy of supply to affordability to the development of new technologies to the issues of security at our facilities and more."

He noted that the administration has several individuals with "incredible expertise" in oil and gas. Bush was formerly in the oil business, as was Vice-Pres.-elect Dick Cheney.

Abraham said, "We have vast resources within the US, and these are crucial to our country's security. We can make good use of them, while at the same time, I believe, meeting our responsibilities as good stewards for the land, the air and the water. So this is the duty of the next secretary of energy and I am very eager to take up the task."

Abraham was not known for energy legislation in Congress. He served on the commerce, budget, judiciary, and small business committees.

When gasoline prices were high last year, he cosponsored a bill with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and others to suspend the 18.4�/gal federal gasoline tax for 150 days. The Senate rejected the measure.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America had advocated Abraham's election in 1994.

Skip Horvath, Natural Gas Supply Association president, said, "Abraham is a solid choice for the Department of Energy, bringing a strong understanding of competitive markets and the relationship between energy, industry and the consumer.

"He comes from a state (Michigan) that is representative of the entire natural gas industry-producers, interstate pipelines, distributors and industrial consumers. He has successfully transcended state issues and has expanded his experience not only nationally, but into the international arena as well."

OPEC pricing

At the press conference, Bush was asked if he would consider meeting with member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries before the group considers a 1.5 million b/d production cut at its Jan. 17 meeting.

Bush replied, "No. The president of the US will be the president until Jan. 20. and our nation will speak with one voice."

He continued, "But the fact that OPEC is thinking about reducing world supply of crude oil and thereby affecting the price at the pump and the price of heating oil, indicates the need for us to have an energy policy that makes us less dependent on foreign sources of crude.

"The ideal world is one in which we don't have to worry about somebody reducing supplies on the world markets. We've got a long way to go from there. But we need to be exploring in an environmentally-sensitive way for oil and gas here at home."

Bush said a cornerstone of his diplomatic policy will be to "work with our friends in the Middle East, particularly as it relates to matters of energy."

More in Government