With a unanimous vote, the United States Senate confirmed MIT professor Ernest Moniz as the new secretary of the Department of Energy. Unlike Obama’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Moniz received support from both sides of the aisle, with the only delay coming from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who was protesting Obama’s plan to cut funding from a project in his state.
Moniz, who was an energy undersecretary in the Clinton administration, replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in Obama’s first term. Although his acceptance into the office was fairly conflict free, the new DOE secretary will face many challenges over the next few years, and his decisions will likely shape America’s energy future long beyond his tenure in office.
“Moniz is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment,” reports the school. “At MIT, Moniz has also served previously as head of the Department of Physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His principal research contributions have been in theoretical nuclear physics and in energy technology and policy studies. He has been on the MIT faculty since 1973.”
Perhaps it was his work in nuclear energy and praise for coal and fracking that allowed him to escape the Conservative gauntlet that has been thrown down for Gina McCarthy, Obama’s pick for the EPA. Unfortunately, these characteristics don’t bode well for human and environmental health, nor the renewable energy industry. Environmental groups lost no time in reminding him of the volatile energy issues currently facing the U.S. and urging decisions that move us away from fossil fuels for good.
“To do what is right by the American public, we need Secretary Moniz to go all in on smart energy and climate solutions, like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and to protect our children’s health and future, while creating jobs for American workers,” said Deb Nardone, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign Director, in a statement.