As Commerce Secretary, Richardson Will Govern Air, Oceans

CHICAGO, Illinois, December 4, 2008 (ENS) - President-elect Barack Obama has tapped New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to be his Secretary of Commerce, a position with many natural resources responsibilities.

Richardson will be in charge of rebuilding the U.S. economy on a basis of clean energy and green jobs - two of the essential pillars of Obama's plan to revitalize America. And as commerce secretary, he will head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, which governs everything from the National Weather Service to fisheries management.

Governor Richardson is serving his second term as governor of New Mexico and previously represented northern New Mexico in Congress for 15 years. In 1997, President Bill Clinton selected Richardson as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. From 1998 to 2001, Richardson served as Secretary of Energy. He ran for the Democratic presidential nomination during the current election cycle but was defeated by Obama.

Announcing Richardson's nomination in Chicago Wednesday, Obama said, "As a former Secretary of Energy, Bill understands the steps we must take to build a new, clean-energy industry and create the green jobs of the 21st century. Jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas - jobs that will help us end our dependence on foreign oil."

"And as a former Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill brings both international stature and a deep understanding of today’s global economy," Obama said. "He understands that the success of today’s business in Detroit or Columbus often depends on whether it can sell products in places like Santiago or Shanghai."

"And he knows that America’s reputation in the world is critical not just to our security, but to our prosperity - that when the citizens of the world respect America’s leadership, they are more likely to buy America’s products," said the president-elect.

Richardson said, "There is a vital role for the Department of Commerce in our economic recovery. The unique strengths of the department and its talented public servants make it the natural agency to serve as the programmatic nerve center in America’s struggle to rejuvenate our economy. America will once again be at the forefront of innovation, especially in the new frontier of energy independence and clean energy jobs, and we will restore our position of respect in the world."

The present Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, issued a supportive statement, saying, "The Department of Commerce is a vast agency with a diverse portfolio that ranges from promoting commerce and economic growth, to exercising stewardship over our oceans and waterways."

"Richardson has the credibility and expertise to negotiate with our foreign partners and ensure that American businesses and workers have open markets and a fair playing field on which to compete," said Gutierrez.

Ocean conservationists praised Obama's choice of Richardson.

Vikki Spruill, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy said, "Bill Richardson is an outstanding choice to lead the Department of Commerce, the department most closely associated with America's ocean policy."

"Given the many serious problems currently facing our oceans, we hope and expect Governor Richardson to be a champion for the health of our oceans," she said.

"Too often NOAA has been as afterthought at the Commerce Department. We believe Governor Richardson can change that. Clearly, he is aware the ocean supplies the air we breathe and the food we eat," said Spruill. "We trust he will put defending this all-important resource at the front of his agenda, where it belongs."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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