Moniz tapped for DOE

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Politics > MIT physicist would replace Steven Chu

By The Staff

The Obama Administration Monday nominated three people to fill open spots on the president’s second term cabinet. Among them, Ernest Moniz was tapped to head the Department of Energy.

Reportedly well known and respected in scientific circles, Moniz, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace outgoing DOE Secretary Steven Chu. The following biographical information was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Moniz is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, director of the Energy Initiative, and director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has served on the faculty since 1973. He served as head of the Department of Physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His research focus is energy technology and policy, including a leadership role in MIT interdisciplinary technology and policy studies on the future of nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas, and solar energy in a low-carbon world.

Moniz served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy from 1997 until January 2001 and, from 1995 to 1997, as associate director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. At DOE, he had oversight of the science and energy programs, led a comprehensive review of nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, and served as the secretary’s special negotiator for Russian nuclear materials disposition programs.

He received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in physics from Boston College, a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University, and honorary doctorates from the University of Athens, the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Michigan State University.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and received the 1998 Seymour Cray HPCC Industry Recognition Award for vision and leadership in advancing scientific simulation.

Moniz, 68, was a former Energy Department undersecretary under former President Bill Clinton. He’s advised President Barack Obama on numerous energy topics, including how to handle the country’s nuclear waste and the natural gas produced by the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, according to a report published Monday by the Associated Press.

Environmental groups are wary of Moniz, because of his support of natural gas and nuclear power.
His MIT Energy Initiative has received funding from oil companies such as BP, Shell and Chevron.
New Mexico senators, meanwhile, weighed in on Moniz.

“I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Moniz last year at MIT in his physics lab, and I’m encouraged by his thorough understanding and acumen of renewable energy development and research of low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuel,” Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) “New Mexico’s Sandia and Los Alamos labs heavily depend on strong leadership from the Department of Energy, and I look forward to discussing with him our labs’ energy research and nuclear weapons stockpile programs.  I will also stress the importance of the department’s ongoing cleanup efforts.”

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said, “Dr. Ernest Moniz has analyzed a broad array of energy technologies and policies, including renewable energy, fossil fuels and nuclear power in the context of energy security and global climate change.
“I am interested in learning more about his history with New Mexico and our national labs through his earlier roles at DOE, and his outlook for the future.

“Innovation, science and technology should remain at the heart of the department’s mission with greater emphasis on tech-transfer, and it is imperative that the next secretary focus on resolving the ongoing difficulties at the National Nuclear Security Administration in order to restore confidence to our stockpile stewardship and national security missions.”