Senate approves Chu for energy post

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By The Staff

Incoming Energy Secretary Steven Chu was confirmed Tuesday, within hours of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington.

Chu was one of six cabinet secretaries approved unanimously by the Senate, along with Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.

In an announcement Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. said he was pleased the Senate approved the secretaries today. Along with Chu, they included; Arne Duncan, Department of Education, Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security; Ken Salazar, Department of Interior; Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Thomas Vilsack, Department of Agriculture.

Chu and Salazar made appearances in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, of which Bingaman is the chair.

Chu shared a Nobel Prize in physics in 1997. As director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2004, he has distinguished himself globally in a campaign of explicit warnings on the issue of global warming, a theme he carried into the confirmation process.

Bingaman said the new administration would waste no time tackling issues important to New Mexico, including the economy, education, energy and the environment and health care.

“I especially look forward to working with our new president to craft an energy policy that moves us away from our dependence on imported oil and focuses instead on homegrown, low-carbon energy supplies and energy efficiency,” Bingaman said in the statement. “We have a lot to do, but I believe we are ready to make significant progress.”

Yesterday afternoon, a formal portrait of the new secretary appeared on the DOE web site, but there was no additional information.

A clerk in the press office said that there was a director of public affairs, Dan Leistikow, but nobody yet available to answer questions. Leistikow was an Obama campaign spokesperson, according to a cursory Internet search.