Potential Energy Secretary
Energy policy is at a crossroads, considering the major strategic and economic decisions ahead for the next Congress and administration. The Energy secretary drives those decisions, and is also in charge of planning and administering energy research and development programs. The department also directs efforts to safeguard the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, coordinates research and development of new nuclear weapons systems, promotes nuclear non-proliferation abroad and operates the civilian nuclear waste repository and the four regional power administrations.
Heather A. Wilson
Congresswoman from New Mexico
Albuquerque’s House member since 1988 gave up the seat to run for the Senate this year and lost the GOP primary by 3 percentage points. But she’s still regarded in GOP circles as a political and intellectual force, especially on energy issues. As representative of a district that’s home to Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as a member of the Intelligence Committee, her experience dovetails with one of the Energy Department’s primary jobs: managing the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Her background as an Air Force veteran and former National Security Council staffer also gives her a background well-suited to the Energy job. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, she’s supported boosting nuclear energy, a high priority for McCain. Like McCain, she has not been shy about bucking her party’s leadership and says she has always regarded herself as an iconoclast who makes up her own mind.
R. James Woolsey
Former CIA director
Now the McCain campaign’s chief energy adviser, he’s gained attention in recent years for his efforts to portray the nation’s fossil fuel dependence as a national security threat, with frequent testimony to Congress and on major national panels. He is a vocal advocate of alternative energy and plug-in hybrid cars. He’s held presidential appointments under the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton and is closely identified with neoconservative leaders who pushed for war with Iraq and broader use of U.S. military power.
Frederick W. Smith
FedEx Corp. founder and chief executive
The national co-chairman of McCain’s campaign committee could be a wild-card pick for Energy. As head of a company that consumes an estimated $3 billion of fuel every year, he is a leading advocate of energy conservation, working with the group Environmental Defense to promote hybrid delivery trucks. His company also operates some of the country’s largest solar power installations and he has been profiled as a “highly visible leader on the topic of oil dependence” in the book “Freedom from Oil: How the Next President Can End the United States’ Oil Addiction” (written by Obama energy adviser and former assistant Secretary of State David B. Sandalow). Smith is also co-chair of the Energy Security Leadership Council, a project of the nonpartisan group Securing America’s Future Energy.
Ernest J. Moniz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist
The professor served as undersecretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, as well as associate director for science in the president’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. His research has focused on theoretical nuclear physics, and while serving in the Energy Department, he also led a comprehensive review of the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program and served as the Secretary’s special negotiator for Russian nuclear weapons materials. That gives him background to guide the department’s management of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. It’s expected that in an Obama administration the department would expand its focus on energy policy and climate change, but Moniz has credentials there, too, as co-director of MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, which focuses the science of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Edward G. Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania
If he helps Obama carry one of the biggest swing-state prizes in the election, he could have his pick of a number of administration jobs, even though his first choice for president was Hillary Rodham Clinton. First elected governor in 2002, he has made promoting alternative energy a cornerstone of his administration: he helped push through a law requiring that 18 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, backed by hefty funding for renewable energy infrastructure and green jobs. Those policies are right in line with what Obama has proposed doing nationwide.
Philip R. Sharp
Resources for the Future president
He was one of the most prominent forces in the federal energy and environmental policy debates during his 10 terms as an Indiana congressman, starting with his efforts in the late 1970s to usher Jimmy Carter’s energy package into law and continuing through the enactment of a sweeping 1992 law designed to address oil conservation, stiffen nuclear power plant licensing and promote alternative fuels. He rose to third ranking on the Energy and Commerce Committee before retiring in 1994. He spent most of the next decade at Harvard’s Kennedy School before taking over Resources for the Future, a highly regarded nonpartisan organization that conducts research on energy and environmental policy issues, in 2005.