Obama nominates Moniz to lead DOE, McCarthy as head of EPA

By Erin Voegele | March 05, 2013

President Obama has nominated Ernie Moniz as Secretary of Energy, and Gina McCarthy as Administrator of the U.S. EPA.

Moniz is a physics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A nuclear physicist, Moniz has served as director of MIT’s Energy Initiative. If confirmed, Moniz will replace current Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who announced his resignation Feb. 1.

During his speech to announce the nominations of Moniz and other cabinet-level officials, Obama said one challenge faced by our nation building on the work we’ve done to control our own energy future while reducing pollution that contributes to climate change. “And few people have played more of a role in addressing these issues than current Secretary of Energy Steven Chu,” he said. “Steven has helped us to speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy. He’s given more of our brightest young scientists the opportunity to pursue the ideas that will shape our future. So I could not be more grateful to Steve for the incredible contribution that he’s made to this country. And now that he’s decided to leave Washington for sunny California, I’m proud to nominate another brilliant scientist to take his place—Mr. Ernie Moniz.”

Moniz has a history of working at the DOE, serving as Under Secretary of Energy under President Clinton. “Since then, he’s directed MIT’s Energy Initiative, which brings together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the technologies that can lead us to more energy independence and also to new jobs,” Obama said. “Most importantly, Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate. And so I could not be more pleased to have Ernie join us.”

According to MIT, Moniz serves as director of both the MIT Energy Initiative and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. At MIT, he has also served as the head of department of physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His principal research contributions have been in theoretical nuclear physics and in energy technology and policy studies.

Information released by MIT notes that the MIT Energy Initiative was created in 2006 and is designed to link science, innovation and policy to help transform global energy systems. Under Moniz’s leadership as founding director, the initiative has supported nearly 800 research projects, two-thirds of which are focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon management and enabling tools such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced modeling.

Obama has also nominated Gina McCarthy as U.S. EPA administrator. McCarthy currently serves as assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. If confirmed, she would replace former Administrator Lisa Jackson, who announced her resignation in December. In Jackson’s absence, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe is also serving as acting administrator.

The Advanced Biofuels Association has spoken out in support of McCarthy’s nomination. “Ms. McCarthy over the last four years has demonstrated her ability to lead regulatory efforts on a number of areas including Advanced Biofuels,” said Michael McAdams, president of the ABFA.

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