Moniz sworn in as secretary of DOE

Ernest Moniz sworn in as secretary Department of Energy DOE Steven Chu

By Wayne Barber, Chief News Analyst, GenerationHub

An energy policy veteran, Ernest Moniz, was sworn in May 21 as the 13th secretary of energy.

“I am thrilled to be back at DOE,” Moniz told a Department of Energy (DOE) employee gathering moments after being sworn in by Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman.

“He [Moniz] understands human nature and is able to bring out the best in people,” Poneman said. The fact that Moniz passed the Senate without any opposing votes is evidence of that, Poneman said.

DOE is a department that covers everything from windmills to nuclear weapons, Moniz said. He added that he looked forward to building upon former secretary Steven Chu’s work on “the clean energy and climate agenda.”

Secretary Moniz had a first day at the DOE helm that included briefings today by the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the department’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

Moniz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, was confirmed to head DOE on a 97-0 vote by the U.S. Senate May 16.

Moniz served in DOE during the Clinton administration as Under Secretary of Energy from 1997 to 2001. More recently, Moniz served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. That panel, appointed by Chu, recommended that a new entity take spent nuclear fuel policy outside of DOE.

Moniz cited the Hurricane Sandy experience as an example of how DOE can work with utilities “making sure that we can keep the lights on.”

President Obama has called upon DOE to play a leading role in combatting climate change and developing a more sustainable energy future.

DOE is the backbone of physical research in the nation and most continue to innovate, despite tight budget times, Moniz said.

In addition to being a frequent government policy advisor, Moniz has been a faculty member at MIT since 1973.

At MIT, he headed the Department of Physics and the Bates Linear Accelerator Center.  Most recently, Dr. Moniz served as the founding Director of the MIT Energy Initiative and of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment and was a leader of multidisciplinary 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 is scheduled to hold a sort-of town hall event with DOE employees that will be webcast. He is expected to discuss his plans and views as secretary, according to The Hill.

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