Published: March 2013
On March 4, President Barack Obama nominated Ernest Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at MIT, to become the 13th U.S. Secretary of Energy. If confirmed, the Massachusetts native would leave his posts as director of MIT’s Energy Initiative and its Laboratory for Energy and Environment.
Moniz joined the MIT faculty in 1973, and from 1983 to 1992 he led the university’s federally sponsored Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His confirmation would mark the sixth government position held by the former Boston College physics major, who earned his doctorate from Stanford University. During the Clinton administration Moniz served as an associate director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (1995–97) and as under secretary of the Department of Energy (1997–2001). In the Obama administration he has been a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (2010–12), the cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council (2009–present), and the Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (2010–present).
In a November 2011 Foreign Affairs article titled “Why We Still Need Nuclear Power” (available online for a fee) Moniz wrote, “It would be a mistake to let [Japan’s nuclear accident at] Fukushima cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits,” among which he counted its relative cleanliness, reliability, and low cost. “The public,” he stated, “needs to be convinced that nuclear power is safe.” Moniz has also said (in a 2010 interview with the Switch Energy Project) that he is “bullish” on solar energy. As he wrote in Foreign Affairs, “If the United States takes a hiatus from creating new clean-energy options . . . Americans will look back in 10 years with regret.”
- An interview on energy policy with the Switch Energy Project (video)
- “Ernest Moniz, MIT Physicist, Nominated as Energy Secretary,” Washington Post, March 4, 2013
- “Meet the New Secretary of Energy Nominee: Ernie Moniz, Scientific American, March 4, 2013
- Boston College Class Notes Profile
- Ernest Moniz’s MIT faculty page