WASHINGTON, D.C.--Ending months of speculation, President Bill Clinton today said he would nominate U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson to head the Department of Energy (DOE). Richardson would take over from Secretary Federico Peña, who is leaving the job at the end of this month.
The move was greeted warmly by DOE officials and congressional staffers, who note that Richardson represented the district that includes Los Alamos National Laboratory during his stint as a New Mexico Democratic congressman between 1983 and 1997. He also has a nonpartisan reputation that should serve him well in dealing with lawmakers. "He's well respected on both sides of the aisle," says one Republican staffer.
It could take months before the Senate finds time to confirm Richardson, however. Betsy Moler, deputy DOE secretary, is expected to serve as acting secretary until the new boss comes on board.