Jan. 3, 2001
Abraham Wrong Choice for Energy Secretary
Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Director, Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program
We have grave reservations about the appointment of former Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham to head the Department of Energy. He is no friend to the consumer or the environment. His votes in favor of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and against energy efficiency measures demonstrate a pattern of disregard for the conservation of our natural resources.
Abraham does not appear to have any practical experience with energy issues or with managing a large federal agency. He has consistently sided with wealthy energy and nuclear interests in the Senate. Not only did he vote with the nuclear industry to gut environmental standards for the proposed high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nev., he voted against increasing funding for renewable energy research at the DOE. He accepted more than $449,000 from energy and natural resource interests during his recent failed re-election bid.
In 1999, Abraham was an original co-sponsor of Minnesota Sen. Rod Gram’s bill to abolish the DOE. He co-sponsored legislation last year that would have allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and also voted against allowing the Department of Transportation to study increasing the fuel efficiency of automobiles.
The DOE has a terrible track record in supervising its contractors, running the nation’s weapons facilities, cleaning up waste that is the legacy of bomb building, and objectively determining if Yucca Mountain is an appropriate site to store the nation’s high-level nuclear waste. The agency needs to clean up its act, but it is unlikely that Abraham is the person to do the job.