Ex-Sen. Dorgan doesn’t rule out Obama Energy secretary post

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) is calling talk that he might be President Obama’s second Energy secretary mere “speculation,” but isn’t denying the possibility either.

The three-term senator, who didn't seek reelection in 2010, is often mentioned as a potential nominee if current Secretary Steven Chu steps down, a departure that would surprise few.

“Speculation is a big business in Washington, D.C. If we could find a way to price it, somebody would get rich,” Dorgan said in an interview broadcast Sunday on Platts Energy Week TV. “I am very interested in energy issues, but I have served in public service for a long, long time.”

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Asked if he’s had discussions with the White House, Dorgan replied: “I just don’t comment at all about the speculation even, because that just adds to the speculation.”

Dorgan was deeply involved in energy while on Capitol Hill, serving on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water panel. He served six House terms before arriving in the Senate.

His Senate relationships could help prevent a messy confirmation fight. But Dorgan has also taken positions that rankle parts of Obama’s liberal base.

In Congress he pushed to pare back drilling limits in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and supports the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline; neither oil-and-gas leasing nor the pipeline decision are under Energy Department jurisdiction.

Dorgan remains active on energy policy. He’s a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he helps lead the think tank’s energy program, and is also a senior adviser with the firm Arent Fox LLP.

Elsewhere in the Platts interview, Dorgan predicts Obama will approve Keystone; touts support for fossil fuels and alternative energy; and expresses hope for bipartisan cooperation on energy, an area that has seen more conflict than collaboration in recent years.

Check out the whole interview here.