Obama expected to nominate McCarthy to head EPA; Moniz to lead DOE

President Obama Gina McCarthy EPA Ernest Moniz Department of Energy Steven Chu Lisa P. Jackson

According to a source quoted by Reuters news service, President Barack Obama hopes to formally announce his nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy as early as this week. Obama is expected to put air quality expert Gina McCarthy forward to head up the EPA. Nuclear physicist and MIT energy researcher Ernest Moniz is believed to be the president’s choice to lead the Energy Department.

McCarthy would become responsible for leading the president’s push to fight climate change, an issue he gave top billing in his recent State of the Union and inaugural addresses. McCarthy, a Boston native and former environmental policy adviser to then-Governor Mitt Romney, would replace Lisa Jackson, who stepped down from the EPA’s top post earlier this month.

“Gina is a true-blue environmentalist, but she is at least willing to make changes when people have legitimate concerns,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a former EPA official during George W. Bush’s administration and now a lobbyist for energy interests, according to Reuters.

If Moniz is confirmed, the president will have placed two nuclear physicists in a row in charge of the Energy Department, following the tenure of Nobel-laureate Steven Chu, who is stepping down. The  pick signals the president’s commitment to innovation in energy technology, a subject he trumpeted during his State of the Union by proposing the formation of an energy security trust to spur research in groundbreaking technologies.

A former undersecretary of energy during the Clinton administration and a famously enthusiastic researcher, Moniz is director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, which gets funding from energy titans like BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco to conduct research on technologies designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Environmentalists have expressed reluctance about the Moniz choice, due to his support for developing shale gas production through hydraulic fracturing. The president has publicly affirmed support for shale gas development as well.

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