Senate Panel Takes Up Slate of Energy, Interior Nominations

WASHINGTON - JUNE 21: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (2nd L), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, speaks at a news conferece on Capitol Hill as Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) (L-R) listen on June 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill, which will now have to be merged with a House version before final passage. 
National Journal
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Clare Foran
Jan. 14, 2014, 1:49 a.m.

The Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee will vote on Thursday on a num­ber of nom­in­a­tions for key Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion posts in the En­ergy and In­teri­or de­part­ments.

The nom­in­ees, which in­clude Mi­chael Con­nor to serve as deputy sec­ret­ary of the In­teri­or, Eliza­beth Robin­son as un­der­sec­ret­ary of En­ergy, Chris­toph­er Smith as DOE’s as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for fossil en­ergy and El­len Wil­li­ams as DOE’s dir­ect­or of Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency-En­ergy, are largely un­con­tro­ver­sial.

Na­tion­al Journ­al re­por­ted earli­er this month, however, that Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., may place a hold on the nom­in­a­tion of Chris­toph­er Smith.

As as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for fossil en­ergy, Smith would over­see the En­ergy De­part­ment’s ap­provals pro­cess for nat­ur­al-gas ex­port ter­min­als. Stabenow is con­cerned that a quick suc­ces­sion of ap­provals could pose a threat to chem­ic­als man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­clud­ing Dow Chem­ic­al, headquartered in Michigan, that be­ne­fit from the cheap price of nat­ur­al gas.

While Stabenow has not said defin­it­ively wheth­er she will place a hold on the nom­in­a­tion, the sen­at­or will likely have to make a de­cision soon.