Doney’s nomination, which enjoyed bipartisan support, was blocked beginning more than a year ago by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who demanded that Obama administration officials testify before Congress on the Interior Department’s decision to halt deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A Vitter spokesman told E&E News that “Vitter had no specific objections to Doney but had significant concerns with the administration’s handling of Gulf drilling.”
The NOAA chief scientist position has been vacant for more than a decade, unfilled by either the George W. Bush or Barack Obama administrations.
Doney is a top expert on how the global carbon cycle and ocean ecology respond to natural and human-driven climate change, including ocean acidification from the burning of fossil fuels.
Last week, the White House announced the withdrawal of the nomination of Rebecca Wodder to be Interior’s assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, after failing to lift blocks from Vitter and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).