Just over a month after Steven Chu announced his resignation as Secretary of Energy, President Obama nominated nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to fill the vacancy. The distinguished professor and founding director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI) is no stranger to the role; Moniz previously served as Undersecretary of Energy during former President Bill Clinton’s second term. Prior to serving as undersecretary, Moniz also acted as the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Moniz shares the viewpoint of the Obama administration that supports an all-inclusive strategy when it comes to energy. As the global demand for energy continues to rise at a rapid pace, Moniz is expected to focus on ways to adequately meet demand with both the environment and the economy in mind. President Obama stated Moniz , along with newly nominated EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, are “going to be making sure that we’re investing in American energy, that we’re doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we’re going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place.”
Though he is widely criticized among environmentalists for his ties to the oil industry and support of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to produce natural shale gas, Moniz is a staunch advocate of nuclear power and renewable energy. Like his predecessor Chu, Moniz is concerned about climate change and focused on technological innovation and scientific research to address ongoing energy concerns.
In a message posted on the MITEI website last November, Moniz noted the program continued “to advance our technically grounded, policy-relevant analyses of key energy issues in the interest of providing some degree of rationality in the ongoing political discussion.” Such a statement suggests Moniz is more likely to act with the objective viewpoint of a scientist than react to emotionally charged but subjective arguments. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing to consider the Moniz nomination is set for for April 9.