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The Retirement of NREL Director Vice Admiral Richard Truly

Location: Washington, DC

The Retirement of NREL Director Vice Admiral Richard Truly-Hon. Mark Udall (Extensions of Remarks - June 15, 2004)


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday, Vice Admiral Richard Truly, director of DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), announced that he plans to retire in early November after more than seven years as NREL's director.

Although I am not greatly surprised by this announcement, I am saddened by it. I know that a national search will soon be launched to select the Admiral's successor, and I expect that his successor will represent NREL well in future years. But Admiral Truly has so vividly marked the last five years I've spent working on renewable energy policy in the House of Representatives. It is hard to imagine NREL without him.

In a letter to staff, Admiral Truly wrote, "I honestly believe that it is at the intersection of our energy use, our environment, our economic well being and our national security that society finds the greatest engineering and scientific challenges on Earth today. Each of you at NREL are at the heart of this challenge and opportunity. What you do really, really matters to our nation and our world. I feel a deep privilege to have been a small part of your successes over these years."

This last statement exemplifies the Admiral's approach to leadership. He was always quick to credit NREL staff for their achievements and believed in the importance of teamwork. He was admired by his colleagues at NREL and, I think, inspired them to work harder and aim higher.

For the Admiral, no challenge was too great. He wasn't content to rise to the rank of vice admiral in the Navy. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot and astronaut, logging more than 7,500 hours of flight. His astronaut career included work in the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, and NASA's Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and Space Shuttle programs. He piloted the 747/Enterprise approach and landing tests in 1977. He lifted off in November 1981 as pilot aboard Columbia, the first shuttle to be reflown into space, establishing a world circular orbit altitude record. He commanded Challenger in August-September 1983, the first night launch/landing mission of the Space Shuttle program. For all these achievements, President Reagan awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal to Admiral Truly in 1989. Admiral Truly capped off his space career by serving as NASA's eighth Administrator under President George H.W. Bush from 1989-1992.

During his seven years at NREL, Admiral Truly has raised the visibility of the laboratory to new heights. NREL is considered the premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D. As a world leader in the development of these technologies, NREL is involved in fifty different areas of scientific research, from solar photovoltaics and wind energy to hydrogen fuel cells and distributed energy generation.

As co-chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I have worked hard to increase funding for NREL's important research and generally to raise the profile of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Congress. It has been an uphill climb, as these programs have had to compete for funding with others. What has inspired me to keep fighting the fight has been knowing that Admiral Truly and his team are back in Colorado, pushing technological limits, dreaming up new ways for us to transition to a clean energy future. Admiral Truly may not be with NREL in the years to come, but I know he will always be there in spirit, urging us all to continue to aim for the stars.


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