Controversial Nominee Appears Before State Lawmakers

New Mexico – Former astronaut and New Mexico energy secretary-designate Harrison "Jack" Schmitt has made his pitch to state lawmakers.

He's asking that they help the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department fill critical vacancies that threaten to keep the agency from meeting mandates and competing for federal funding. He made the request Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee.

Schmitt also talked about renewed interest in uranium mining, opportunities in the nuclear industry and clearing a backlog of oil and gas permits.

Some Democratic lawmakers raised questions about the costs of reclamation related to more mining and development.

However, missing from Thursday's budget hearing was any mention of global warming.

Schmitt has made waves in recent years with some of his comments. He disagrees with scientists who contend humans are causing global warming.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.