Acclaimed author Robert Bryce, argues we need to have more energy company executives, particularly those with experience in the oil industry, running our energy policy.
Bryce, who lays out his theory on The Daily Beast, thinks the problem is Americans consider oil executives so loathsome that they’d never approve of having one in charge of the energy policy.
His basic premise is that former Wall Street executives run the Treasury because they have an intimate knowledge of finance, so why doesn’t the same standard apply to the Energy Department? Prior to the current administration, the Energy secretary historically knew next to nothing about energy:
- Jimmy Carter named James Schlesinger—an apparatchik with no history in the energy sector—as the nation’s first Energy secretary.
- Ronald Reagan chose James B. Edwards, a man who understood drilling—he was a dentist.
- Bill Clinton’s choices for the top Energy spot were:Hazel O’Leary, a lawyer; Federico Pena, another lawyer; and finally Bill Richardson, a politico and diplomat.
- George W. Bush’s choices to head the Department of Energy included Spencer Abraham, a lawyer who’d just lost his seat in the U.S. Senate, and Samuel Bodman, an engineer whose professional career was in investments and chemical production.
We’d like to point out that having Wall Streeters in charge of the Treasury hasn’t exactly been a smashing success. Hank Paulson was at Goldman Sachs when credit default swaps and mortgage backed securities became popular with investment banks. When he got the big gig in Washington, he didn’t do much to reverse the course of the banking world. And when it all came crashing down, his vast experience didn’t seem to be much help in solving the problems.
Another problem with Bryce’s argument is that the previous administration may not have appointed an Energy Secretary from the oil industry, but it’s not like they weren’t aware of what the energy sector wanted or needed. Do the companies Halliburton or Enron ring any bells?
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