Morning Briefing - June 04, 2019
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June 04, 2019

Senate-Confirmed Successor Unlikely at DOE Cleanup Anytime Soon

By ExchangeMonitor

Don’t expect another Senate-confirmed nominee during President Donald Trump’s current term to succeed Anne Marie White at the helm of the Energy Department Office of Environmental Management.

That was the assessment offered Monday by several observers of the DOE weapons complex.

The chances of the White House finding a qualified and willing candidate – and getting them vetted, nominated, and confirmed before the November 2020 election is slim to none – these people agreed. The administration is more than two years old and is just completing confirmation of its first tranche of agency officials, one observer said.

Anyone smart enough to oversee remediation at 16 Cold War sites won’t be dumb enough to take it, said one source. The forced resignation of Anne White, and reassignment of her chief deputy, Mark Gilbertson, makes people wary, he added.

“I can’t imagine anyone would volunteer for the nominating process” at this stage, a second source said. A more likely scenario is Ike White, longtime National Nuclear Security Administration official, will stay in charge of EM for the rest this presidential term as a senior adviser to Undersecretary Paul Dabbar.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry Friday confirmed days of speculation that Anne White is resigning as assistant secretary for environmental management June 14. Relations between Anne White and Dabbar were rumored to be frosty, and Dabbar was said to be unhappy with her handling of a controversy involving possible radioactive contamination at a Pike County, Ohio school.

Ike White becoming senior adviser at Environmental Management will likely happen concurrent with Anne White’s departure, the first source said. That also goes for Todd Shrader’s move to Washington, D.C. to serve as the No. 2 official at the nuclear cleanup office, after working as manager of the Carlsbad Field Office in New Mexico since 2015, where he oversaw the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Shrader will become Environmental Management’s principal deputy assistant secretary, while Gilbertson will become director of the DOE’s National Laboratory Operations Board.

No announcement has been made yet about Shrader’s replacement at Carlsbad. The deputy manager there is Kirk Lachman, who has more than 27 years of experience at DOE.