The President will look to Moniz, to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and establish America as a leader in clean energy technology. Moniz was the Under Secretary of the DOE during the Clinton administration.
Moniz was confirmed by the US Senate as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) on 28 October 1997. As Under Secretary, Dr Moniz advised the Secretary and oversaw the DOE’s research and development portfolio, including energy and environmental technologies, national security, and fundamental science. He oversees the national laboratory system and national security programmes, including stockpile stewardship and non-proliferation.
Before joining the DOE, Dr Moniz was Professor of Physics and Head of the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was responsible for the research and educational programmes of the department.
Prior to that, he served as the Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, a position to which he was nominated by President Clinton in June 1995. His principal research interests are in theoretical nuclear physics. He joined the MIT faculty in 1973 and served as the Director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center from 1983.
Moniz has served numerous universities, national laboratories, professional societies, and government agencies in advisory roles. He received a BS degree in physics from Boston College in 1966 and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University in 1971. With a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation, he performed research at the Center d’Etudes Nucleaires de Saclay in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, and at the University of Pennsylvania from 1971–73. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens in 1997. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Physical Society.
In his current capacity as the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MITs) Energy Initiative, Moniz works on projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
His research interests give the impression that Moniz is an advocate of climate change action. However, this may not offer an accurate nor a complete picture of the man. It is interesting to note that Moniz’s research group gets funding from oil industry giants like BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco.
When making the announcement the President was sure to stress Moniz’s belief that you can increase energy production, grow the economy and take appropriate environmental precautions.
Some environmentalists have suggested that Moniz is too close to the fossil fuel industry especially natural gas. They cite a 2011 MIT study on the future of natural gas that was chaired by Moniz which came to the conclusion that the US should not “erect barriers to natural gas imports or exports.”
Environmentalists are concerned about this alleged bias and they worry that he will not be able to make an impartial decision on the subject of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) for natural gas (arguably the most important short term issue he will have to face).
As a nuclear physicist Moniz may also bolster support for nuclear power.
The nomination of Moniz seems to be a blatant attempt to select someone who personifies Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.