Mark Menezes, Official DOE Portrait (copy)

Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes

 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — President Donald Trump on Thursday said he plans to nominate a U.S. Department of Energy executive to be the department's next second in command.

Trump will tap Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes, a Louisiana State University graduate, to be the deputy secretary of energy, a position previously held by the current secretary of energy, Dan Brouillette. Brouillette succeeded Rick Perry, who left the DOE top spot in December 2019.

Brouillette earlier this year afforded Menezes the authority to direct all operations at the department, save for its weapons-focused National Nuclear Security Administration, effectively making him his deputy.

In a Jan. 10 email to Energy Department workers, Brouillette announced Menezes would oversee "all aspects of human capital, information technology, cyber security, acquisition and real property" as well as be responsible for exercising emergency authorities and rule making.

The transfer of power, Brouillette reasoned in the email, would ensure continued "operational effectiveness." In a mid-January interview in North Augusta, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said delegating the responsibilities to Menezes – a big boost to his power and influence – made sense. The two under secretaries work closely.

Trump's announcement was made three days after he unveiled the executive branch's fiscal year 2021 budget request, which proposes $35.4 billion for the Energy Department.

Menezes has Hill experience, and has previously served as an executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy and as the vice president and associate general counsel for American Electric Power, one of the largest electric energy companies in the U.S.

The Energy Department has significant sway in the greater Aiken County area, as it is in charge of the sprawling Savannah River Site, the nuclear cleanup and weapons hub near New Ellenton and Jackson.

Menezes will have to be approved by the U.S. Senate before becoming the deputy secretary. Brouillette, the DOE chief, on Thursday urged senators to support the nomination.

"I look forward to continuing to serve alongside my friend and colleague to advance U.S. energy independence and security," he wrote further on Twitter.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin