Smith, 45, has both the opportunity and challenge of managing the department's review of natural-gas exports, easily one of the hottest topics in the energy industry right now. "We have what I think is a great dilemma," Smith said. "How do we best and most prudently take advantage of what is a tremendous and important resource?" Smith's experience working for two major oil and natural-gas companies has helped prepare him for this task. Smith spent 11 years working for Texaco and Chevron, including at a natural-gas import facility for the latter. Smith also oversees the department's oil and coal programs. His goals for the next four years are to help meet Obama's aim of reducing oil imports by a third over the next 10 years and to accomplish that in a safe way, especially as it relates to the natural-gas boom. Smith, who was born in California but grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, earned a bachelor's degree in engineering management from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point and an M.B.A. from Cambridge University. Smith played rugby while in the Army and later in club sports. Now, he's been upgraded to coaching status. "One of the fun things I get to do now is coach my son's rugby team," Smith said about his 8-year-old.