Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham Resigns

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Publication date: 
15 November 2004

In a letter dated Sunday, November 14, Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham submitted his resignation to President Bush. The Secretary's resignation will become effective when his successor is approved by the Senate.

Abraham served as energy secretary during the entire first term of President Bush. Warned during his January 2001 Senate confirmation hearing that he was "stepping into a quagmire of problems," Abraham began his tenure just as California was experiencing its first blackouts. Many of the long-running problems that confronted the nation when Abraham became secretary continued to receive his attention during his four years in office: the development and production of nuclear weapons, nuclear non proliferation, the disposal of nuclear waste, the role and function of the national laboratories, and constrained funding for scientific research.

The Department of Energy is of great importance to the physics community as it supports 40% of all basic research in the physical sciences. DOE provides funding for 69% of physics research, 90% of funding for high energy and nuclear physics, and 100% of the funding for plasma science. The department manages 17 national laboratories and funds research at 250 universities throughout the United States.

Secretary Abraham's letter follows:

November 14, 2004

The President
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Bush,

I write to once again congratulate you on your re-election. The voters have strongly endorsed your record and vision for this country and have delivered a highly deserved vote of confidence in you. Clearly, the strength, determination and unflinching leadership you have demonstrated has been fully recognized and appreciated by the nation.

I also write to thank you for having given me the privilege of serving in your administration. It has been an honor to be part of your team and to have worked with you and Vice President Cheney and I am extremely proud and grateful to have been able to contribute and help advance your agenda.

I believe that our successes in the Department of Energy during the past four years clearly reflect the commitment you have made to America's long term energy and national security.

Since 2001 we have developed the nation's first comprehensive energy plan in over a decade and implemented 90% of its recommendations. We have launched the most ambitious new energy technology initiatives in the world with our Hydrogen and Future Gen programs. We have embarked upon a program to accelerate the clean up of our former weapons sites and reduced by 50 years the timeframe for the complete remediation of our sites. We have pressed ahead with the Yucca Mountain project and undertaken a whole new wave of technology initiatives aimed at improving the safety and long range stability of nuclear energy as a long term power source. We have expanded and accelerated our non proliferation programs with Russia and as a result significantly reduced the timeframe needed to secure Russia's nuclear materials. We have also dramatically expanded the scope of our programs beyond Russia through the Global Threat Reduction Initiative and are on the road to eliminating the risk of nuclear terrorism worldwide. We have successfully launched an ambitious initiative to modernize our weapons complex so that we can retain our capabilities to meet any 21st century threat. And, in some ways most importantly, we have achieved incredible success in the implementation of the President's Management Agenda, achieving the highest attainment levels in all but one area and significantly improving the management and operations of the Department.

All of these accomplishments are the result of your leadership and the support you have provided the Energy Department's efforts and I want to thank you on behalf of everyone at DOE for what you have done.

One of the challenges of public life, as you know, is properly balancing the demands of one's job with the family and personal commitments one faces. As you know, we have three elementary age children and these past four years have posed significant challenges on our family in many ways. Looking ahead, Jane and I have concluded that these challenges will be very difficult to address consistent with the commitment called for in the Energy Secretary's post. Accordingly, and with the utmost respect I have decided that it will not be possible for me to continue to serve as Energy Secretary. Therefore, I hereby submit my resignation from this post to become effective upon the confirmation of my successor.

Mr. President, I am confident that the success we have already achieved will continue and be enlarged in your second term. With larger Republican congressional majorities - especially in the Senate - much needed energy legislation will finally be enacted. In addition, I am certain that the progress we have been making on other fronts will continue as well, and I stand ready to continue to help you, the Vice President, my successor and your administration in any way I can to advance your agenda in the future.

Again, thank you so much for the chance to have served you and the country.


Spencer Abraham

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