Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: John Wright
For Immediate Release:October 31, 2003


Secretary Norton Appoints Brenda Aird as the
Department's Renewable Energy Ombudsman

WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton today announced the appointment of Brenda Aird to serve as the department's Renewable Energy Ombudsman. In this new position Ms. Aird will be responsible for tracking all renewable energy actions. Her office also will serve as a clearinghouse for information regarding new and ongoing projects.

Last year in a report to the White House prepared by the Interior Department and the U.S. Department of Energy, recommendations were identified to help increase renewable energy production on federal lands. Of the seven proposed actions outlined in that report, four have been completed, including the creation of the Ombudsman position and significant progress has been made on the other items.

"Ms. Aird is a career public servant with a wealth of experience and a solid reputation as a leader and problem solver, Norton said. "She has demonstrated a deep commitment to the importance of collaboration in managing issues and the responsible development of the nation's natural resources."

Before being tapped to serve as Ombudsman, the Department's Senior Renewable Energy Advisor, Ms. Aird served in a variety of management and leadership positions. Her work experience focuses primarily on energy and minerals related issues that require working with federal, state and local governments and external constituencies. Her federal career spans 27 years of dedicated energy and minerals experience with the Bureau of Land Management. Since 1996 she has served as the Bureau of Land Management's Group Manager for Solid Minerals. Before that (1993-1996) she served as BLM's division chief for Solid Minerals and also as Assistant Division Chief (1989-1993), and before that as Program Leader for the BLM'S minerals materials program (1976-1989) and before that with the bureau's oil and gas program.

A native of North Carolina, Ms. Aird holds a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has earned numerous awards, including the Department's Meritorious Service Award.

She and her husband William Aird have a daughter attending the University of Virginia, and a 15 year-old son at home. They reside in Falls Church, Va.

Ms. Aird will report to Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, Rebecca Watson. The appointment is effective immediately.

Increasing America's use of renewable and alternative energy is a part of the President's National Policy. Renewable and alternative energy supplies will help to diversify the country's energy portfolio with little or no environmental impacts. By tapping in and using the abundant, naturally occurring sources of energy such as the sun, the wind, geothermal heat and biomass, it will help to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign imports and reduce some of America's dependency on fossil fuels.

"Although we are not currently in an energy crisis, citizens are concerned about our
long-term energy problems," Assistant Secretary Watson said. "The President's energy plan improves energy efficiency and conservation, protects the environment, diversifies our supply through renewable sources and reduces our surging reliance on foreign oil."

Watson noted that the Interior Department has scheduled 10 public scoping meetings in five western states throughout the month of November, to gain input on the development of wind energy. The Department has also scheduled a Woody Biomass Utilization Conference for Jan. 20-22, 2004, in Denver, Colo.

The Interior Department manages one in every five acres of land in the United States and produce about 30 percent of America's energy supply. Approximately, one-third of our natural gas, coal and oil, one-half of geothermal, 17 percent of hydropower and 20 percent of wind power are produced in areas managed by Interior.


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