Senators Call On Bush To Refrain From Controversial Appointment Of Cheney Aide To Energy Post

Senators Call On Bush To Refrain From Controversial Appointment Of Cheney Aide To Energy Post

Menendez and Sanders point to Chase Hutto's record of favoring oil companies and opposing public health protections

Washington - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), both members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today strongly urged President Bush to refrain from appointing an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney to a top Department of Energy post. Cheney aide F. Chase Hutto III has a documented history of favoring oil companies and backing big corporations against measures to protect public health, but it has recently been reported that he is a leading candidate to be appointed to DOE's Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs position.

In their letter, the Senators write, "While the American people are looking for leadership on renewable energy and global warming, they would instead get someone committed to partisan politics and more of the status quo failed energy policies. Appointing Mr. Hutto to any acting capacity would be a mistake and we sincerely hope that at the end of your Presidency, you will avoid any such blatantly-confrontational actions."

The Senators also assert that Hutto "has an unfortunate history of opposing science-based environmental and public health regulations." They point specifically to two concerning episodes.

According to a House of Representatives committee report, Hutto carried the water for the oil industry during internal the White House debate following the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate greenhouse gases. Additionally, Hutto questioned the need for the EPA to regulate power plant emission of mercury that can harm public health.

PDF of letter to Bush: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/091508POTUSHutto.pdf

Full text of letter below:

September 15, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Dear Mr. President:

As members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we strongly object to the proposed appointment of F. Chase Hutto III as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs, or in any other capacity at the Department of Energy (DOE). As a senior aide to Vice President Cheney, he has, according to numerous reports, fought efforts to provide greater protection for the public health and environment. Mr. Hutto is simply an unacceptable candidate to lead the Department of Energy's international energy initiatives.

According to the DOE, the Assistant Secretary is the "primary advisor to the Secretary and the Department on energy and technology policy development" in an office that delivers "unbiased advice" based on "well-founded data and analysis" to the DOE leadership on energy policy. At this particularly important point in time, we need someone as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs who can provide the leadership needed to propel sustainable energy policies, both here and abroad, that are based on the scientific consensus surrounding the imperative to act quickly to address global warming. Mr. Hutto, however, has an unfortunate history of opposing science-based environmental and public health regulations, thus making him unsuitable for this position.

While we could provide innumerable examples of his opposition to forward-thinking energy policies, but let us briefly mention two of the most egregious ones. According to a report by the United States House of Representatives' Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Mr. Hutto acted as a voice for oil industry representatives (including those from the American Petroleum Institute and ExxonMobil) during internal White House deliberations in arguing against action following the Massachusetts v. EPA decision. In another example that shows his lack of regard for science to inform policy, in 2005, Mr. Hutto questioned the need for EPA to limit power plant emissions of mercury. There is substantial evidence demonstrating that mercury pollution from power plants is a major threat to human health, particularly pregnant women and young children.

We have no reason to believe that, as Assistance Secretary, Mr. Hutto would act any differently than he has while working for the Vice President. This means that while the American people are looking for leadership on renewable energy and global warming, they would instead get someone committed to partisan politics and more of the status quo failed energy policies. Appointing Mr. Hutto to any acting capacity would be a mistake and we sincerely hope that at the end of your Presidency you will avoid any such blatantly-confrontational actions.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Sincerely,
_________________________ _________________________
ROBERT MENENDEZ BERNARD SANDERS
United States Senator United States Senator


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