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Numbers steal the show at energy hearing

By Sherry Robinson

Irony seemed to be a guest last week along with Harrison Schmitt, who appeared before the Senate Finance Committee.
The designated Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department talked about the department’s budget needs and commented on the energy industry on the same icy day that thousands of people were losing their natural gas service.
I was there to see what he knew about New Mexico’s energy industries. The former astronaut has, after all, been absent from the state for decades.
Others, like retired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Mel Buchwald, were there to see if Schmitt would sound as wacky in person as some of his published statements. Buchwald, whose name graces many scientific papers, thinks it’s embarrassing to the state that somebody of Schmitt’s extreme views, despite his Harvard pedigree, could become a cabinet secretary.
Schmitt seems comfortable in his new role and has learned enough to speak at length on the department’s operations.
He was warmly welcomed by Chairman John Arthur Smith, a fellow denizen of southwestern New Mexico, and the committee’s Republicans.
The other Democrats were cordial but clear about their environmental concerns.


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