Energy Department, EPA nominations may be on tap

At the DOE, possible Chu successors include former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D); former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.); Center for American Progress founder John Podesta, who was President Clinton’s chief of staff; and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Others include former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D); and Stanford University’s Dan Reicher, who formerly headed climate and energy initiatives for Google and served on Obama’s transition team.

Dorgan, in a November TV interview, did nothing to quash the idea that he might be a candidate to lead the Energy or Interior department, although Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is seen as far more likely to stick around.

Dorgan, who declined to seek a fourth Senate term in 2010, served on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water panel.

Ritter, whose state is home to oil-and-gas development and wind industry manufacturing, didn’t bat down the notion of a Cabinet nod in an interview with Platts Energy Week TV that aired Sunday.

“I am not going to comment on that,” Ritter said when asked whether he’s a DOE candidate or has heard from the administration.

“I appreciate the question. I did have my name on a list, I think it was a list of six, and I don’t want to say anything more today about that,” added Ritter, who currently directs the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

The White House has not offered a timeline for naming a nominee to replace Jackson, a decision that could yield a tough confirmation fight to lead an agency that Republicans routinely criticize.

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will replace Jackson on an acting basis and could also get the formal nomination.

He has already been confirmed twice by the Senate for senior roles in President Clinton’s EPA and his current job.

Another potential EPA choice could be Gina McCarthy, who is currently the EPA’s top air pollution regulator, a Senate-confirmed position that’s formally called the assistant administrator for air and radiation. 

She formerly headed Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, and before that held a senior role in Mitt Romney’s administration when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Many others names are mentioned by EPA observers or are surfacing in published reports.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Friday that outgoing Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) may get the nod soon.

Also mentioned: Kathleen McGinty, who served as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2003-2008 and before that led the White House Council on Environmental Quality under Clinton.

Other potential EPA candidates are believed to include Ian Bowles, who was formerly secretary of energy and environmental affairs in Massachusetts and served in President Clinton’s White House; Bradley Campbell, who is the former head of New Jersey’s environment department and also served as a regional administrator in Clinton’s EPA; and Daniel Esty, the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Former governors and senators are going to be high on the list for both jobs,” predicted independent consultant Paul Bledsoe, noting that lawmakers have relationships on Capitol Hill, while governors’ executive experience can help bring GOP support.

“The sweet spot here for Energy Secretary at this political moment is someone who is expert at DOE programmatics and well liked on the Hill,” said Bledsoe, who was an environmental aide in Clinton’s White House and is also a former Senate staffer.

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