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Energy Chief to Quit

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Energy Secretary Federico Peña announced at a press conference here today that he will resign at the end of June, ending over a year of speculation about his future with the Department of Energy (DOE). The leading candidate for Peña's job is Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Moler, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Moler had been expected to be nominated for the top position at the start of President Bill Clinton's second term. But Clinton at the last moment asked then-Transportation Secretary Peña to fill the slot instead, leaving Moler with the number two position. If Clinton nominates her, Senate confirmation likely would come easily, Administration officials say.

Despite frequent rumors of his impending departure, Peña's announcement took even his staff by surprise. Moler, for example, was on vacation. And at a press gathering in his office last month to discuss his accomplishments of the past year, Peña gave no hint of his impending resignation. Today Peña said that after more than 5 years in Clinton's cabinet, he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue a job in the private sector. He adds that he has "no intention of going into politics."