BP’s Man at the Energy Department

By Gregory

Jun 21, 2010 6:22pm

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: The White House frequently touts the role of Steven Chu, the brilliant Nobel Laureate Secretary of Energy, in dealing with the crisis in the Gulf.  Less noted is this fact:  One of Chu’s top deputies served as a senior executive at BP until last year.

Steven Koonin was  confirmed last May as Undersecretary for Science at Department of Energy.  Immediately before taking the job, Koonin worked in London as Chief Scientist for BP, a job he held from 2004 to 2009.  His official bio on the Energy Department’s website touts his BP experience, but that experience has a downside:  Koonin cannot work with Secretary Chu on anything related to the Gulf oil disaster.

“He’s not part of any of the conversations” related to the Gulf crisis, says Energy Department spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller. 

Why?  Because, Mueller explains, “He’s recused from any decision that would have a direct or predictable effect on BP.”

Although Koonin’s recusal takes one top scientist out of the effort in the Gulf, Mueller says Secretary Chu “has no shortage of experts” helping him deal with the crisis.

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