Menezes confirmed as deputy energy secretary

August 6, 2020, 7:43AMNuclear News


In a bipartisan 79–16 vote, the Senate on August 4 confirmed Mark W. Menezes to be the nation’s deputy secretary of energy. Prior to his confirmation, Menezes had served as undersecretary of energy to both Secretary Dan Brouillette and his predecessor, Rick Perry. An official swearing-in ceremony will take place at a later time.

Before joining the Trump administration in 2017, Menezes was an executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy. He has also worked on Capitol Hill as chief counsel for energy and environment for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as chief negotiator for the House majority in the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Menezes: “I am honored that President Trump and the members of the U.S. Senate have placed their confidence in me to serve as the deputy secretary of energy,” Menezes said. “I will continue to work alongside Secretary Brouillette to advocate for the use of all of America’s abundant energy resources, broadening our supercomputing capabilities and innovation at our national labs, and providing a strong national defense through a modern and dynamic National Nuclear Security Administration.”

Testimonials: “Mark’s years of experience forming energy policy on Capitol Hill and advocating for sensible energy strategies in the private sector make him extremely well-suited to take on this role,” Brouillette said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, we will continue to unleash American energy, providing jobs and economic opportunity across the nation.”

Also happy with the vote was the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), whose committee had approved Menezes’s nomination for deputy secretary on May 20 and favorably reported it to the full Senate by voice vote on June 9. Commenting on Menezes’s role as undersecretary, Murkowski said, “He has been responsible for many programs that help drive the innovation within the department, including for renewable energy as well as nuclear energy. Mr. Menezes also helped create the department’s cybersecurity office, which is dedicated to protecting our energy infrastructure from what have become very sophisticated and near-constant threats.”

“No” votes: Fourteen Democrats and two Republicans opposed Menezes’s confirmation, including Nevada’s two Democratic senators, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, both of whom expressed concerns over reported discussions by Trump administration officials about resuming nuclear testing, which would likely be conducted in their state.

“Reports are suggesting that this administration is prepared to jeopardize the health and safety of Nevadans, undercut our nation’s nuclear nonproliferation goals, and further weaken strategic partnerships with our global allies just to flex its muscles on the global stage,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.

Other Democratic senators insufficiently impressed with Menezes include Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, California’s Kamala Harris, Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts’s Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, and Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

Perhaps more surprisingly, both of Iowa’s Republican senators cast votes against Menezes as well—in their case because of issues involving the Department of Energy’s treatment of the Hawkeye State’s biofuel industry.

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