Will 'Fracking Proponent' Be Obama's Next Energy Secretary?

Sources said that Ernest Moniz, former Energy Department undersecretary for President Clinton may replace Steven Chu as Energy Secretary. He now directs MIT's Energy Initiative and serves on Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

2 minute read

February 20, 2013, 2:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid


MIT's Energy Initiative researches "all areas of energy supply and demand, security, and environmental impact" according to its website. Some environmentalists frown on its "funding from industry heavyweights including BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco for academic work on projects." In fact, a campaign against Muniz has already been launched by Food & Water Watch because they see him as a 'fracking proponent'.

Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason write that Muniz "would bring scientific acumen to the job, but he also has worked closely with industry and promoted natural gas as a "bridge fuel" to lower carbon pollution while new innovative forms of energy are being developed." While current Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who will remain until a replacement has been confirmed, "had been criticized for ignoring the huge U.S. boom in oil and gas development as he focused on spurring renewable energy, (Muniz) has often talked to lawmakers about how abundant supplies of U.S. natural gas will gradually replace coal as a source of electricity."

In July 2011, Moniz told the Senate Energy committee that he believes the water and air pollution risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" were "challenging but manageable" with appropriate regulation and oversight.

Moniz would seem to be a good fit for President Obama who has pursued an "all of the above" approach to energy while all stating that the country must reduce its carbon emissions to fight climate change.

The other key cabinet position dealing with climate change that needs filling is the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Lisa Jackson stepped down on Feb. 14 and the position is currently held by Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. According to both Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, Gina McCarthyAssistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, is the leading contender to be promoted to the Agency's top spot.

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