Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ANWR Alaska arctic picture

Energy nominee eyes Alaska

Vows to approve drilling in refuge

WASHINGTON -- Samuel W. Bodman, the nominee to be US energy secretary, said yesterday that he would be "an energetic advocate" for opening an Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling for oil and natural gas.

Bodman, 66, is a chemical engineer and virtual unknown to much of the energy industry. He is expected to easily win Senate confirmation, leaving his current post as deputy treasury secretary.

He previously spent nearly 15 years leading Cabot Corp., a chemical manufacturing company based in Boston, and 16 years in high-profile posts at Fidelity Investment.

Before that, he served six years as an associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT, where he was among the youngest faculty members and where he received a doctor of science degree.

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Bodman said he backs President Bush's pleas for Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The committee is expected to vote on the nomination next week.

"I would expect to be an energetic advocate for it," Bodman said, referring to drilling in the refuge. "I think it can be done."

Moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have blocked drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge, the size of South Carolina, which is home to polar bears, caribou, and migratory birds.

The refuge is estimated to hold as much as 16 billion barrels of crude oil. Specialists say that if Congress gave oil companies access to the refuge, it would take a decade for oil to begin flowing.

Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the Senate energy panel, hinted that legislative language to allow drilling in the refuge might be added to the government's annual budget bill, which cannot be filibustered under Senate rules.

Bodman said he generally supported a "balanced" approach in opening more federal lands to drilling. That approach weighs environmental protection against the nation's growing need for energy, he said.

"We regulate the drilling of oil and gas wells more effectively than any other country in the world," he said. "I would rather see it go on in this country, where we have . . . laws and due process."

Bodman said comprehensive energy legislation is among the most important matters before Congress this year, calling a stable supply of energy "the lifeblood" of the US economy.

Although the Bush administration repeatedly endorsed a broad energy bill with billions of dollars in incentives for the energy industry, it was unable to get it approved by the Republican-controlled Congress.

House leaders have insisted the bill include legal liability protection for oil companies that made the fuel additive MTBE, blamed for groundwater contamination in many cities. The Senate opposed such protection.

Bodman assumed his post as Treasury's number two official in February, after nearly three years at the Commerce Department.

By Reuters | January 20, 2005

Permalink :: Posted by Clay Butcher on January 24, 2005 :: ::
« :: »

Other ANWR Resources...

Web site design by Frontier Communications - Anchorage, Alaska