Obama Energy Secretary Nominee Supportive of Nuclear Power

On Monday the president nominated a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to serve as the next secretary of energy.

Ernest Moniz. Source: BRCIf confirmed by the Senate, Ernest J. Moniz will replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While his background is outside of the nuclear power and waste management sectors that form a large part of DOE's work, Moniz has expressed his support for nuclear energy in the past.

He is a professor of physics and engineering systems at MIT, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1973 and also serves as the director of the university's Energy Initiative and Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. His past government appointments include a position as a DOE undersecretary from 1997 to 2001 and as an associate director for science in the Clinton administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy.

His nomination drew support from the U.S. nuclear industry's largest trade group Monday. Nuclear Energy Institute CEO Marvin Fertel said in a release, “In nominating Ernie Moniz to be secretary of energy, President Obama has sent America a strong message that its energy leadership will be entrusted to an advocate of clean energy supplies, including nuclear energy. Dr. Moniz is experienced and well respected in the energy, nonproliferation and national security communities worldwide. He has made it clear that he recognizes nuclear energy’s important role in reducing greenhouse gases as part of a balanced, low-carbon electricity generation portfolio."

In a 2011 article in Foreign Affairs, Moniz highlighted the benefits of nuclear power as a cheap, carbon-free energy source and also noted the potential of small modular reactors to reduce the capital and financing costs of building nuclear plants.