Elizabeth Moler, now deputy secretary of energy and a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is regarded as the leading candidate to succeed Energy Secretary Federico Pena, who announced his resignation April 6. Moler was expected to be named to the secretary's post last year, but the job went instead to Pena, reportedly because of President Clinton's desire to have an Hispanic in his Cabinet. Pena had served four years as Secretary of Transportation in Clinton's first term.
Pena's resignation, which becomes effective in June, was unexpected. But he had indicated when he took over the Energy Dept. a year ago, succeeding an embattled Hazel O'Leary, that he didn't plan to stay long. In a press conference, Pena said he's leaving to return to private business and to spend more time with his family.
While Energy Secretary, the former Denver mayor pushed energy conservation as a way to support the Administration's position on global warming. He also focused on the effort to clean up radioactive waste, which he said will continue to be a major problem for the department.