The likely next secretary of energy is a physics professor researching new energy at MIT, and the next chief of the Environmental Protection Agency has spent years developing regulations to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Both were formally nominated today to fill some of the many empty posts in President Obama's cabinet as his second term rolls along. And both come from backgrounds that suggest Obama really does want to do something, at least regulation-wise, about climate change.
Obama's Department of Energy pick, Ernest Moniz, researches how coal, natural gas, nuclear power and solar energy will fare in a future faced with tough requirements for carbon dioxide emissions. At a speech in Chile in February, Moniz said electricity demands will triple in the coming years, which will cause a "catastrophic increase in the temperature" of Earth unless new innovations start to replace old energy sources. He's been at MIT since 1973 and currently directs the MIT Energy Initiative and the Laboratory for Energy and Environment.
Gina McCarthy is an anthropologist and currently the EPA undersecretary for air and radiation. She's been on the front lines at EPA since Obama took office, shepherding so many new environmental regulations that she won the nickname of "green quarterback."
While Obama and former EPA head Lisa Jackson have long been accused of waging war on coal through new power plant emissions regulations, McCarthy was the one behind the scenes actually writing those rules, as the National Journal explains it. She authored regulations that curbed mercury and soot emissions from coal-fired power plants. While working in Massachusetts' office of environmental affairs, she dubbed the state's biggest polluters the "Filthy Five," and collaborated with hunters and environmentalists to address mercury pollution by dentists, according to the Washington Post.
It will be fun to watch McCarthy's confirmation hearings for a lot of reasons, including her unvarnished Boston accent and sense of humor. Though her views have raised the hackles of many Republicans and energy industry leaders, they still like her, because she at least invites them to the table. The National Journal has a thorough write-up of her contributions, which you can read here.
Moniz is no stranger to the West Wing, either, having served several roles in government: Under President Clinton, he served as associate director for science in the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as undersecretary for energy; and he is a member of Obama's Science and Technology Advisory Council.
After formal nominations Monday, they'll face confirmation hearings in the Senate. Who knows how long that will take.
Your articles the last 2 weeks have been a fantastic refrain from all the non-science, west-hating, copy & paste political puff pieces your editors have exposed us to.
Does this article signify the "Obama Night-Pillow Fan Club" reunion tour?
@FotoBum lols! Yeah, I think they are among the same faction that believe that Capitalism is evil yet don't mind writing books or movies that gross well, but don't donate everything to charity. It's modern hypocrisy at it's worst.
As for the nominations, I'm not so sure POPSCI is doing themselves justice with these political pieces. I mean, yes we know they lean left, but please POPSCI for your conservative readers, try to stay centric and scientific.
You are clearly glorifying these guys. Professor from MIT says "demand for energy in coming years will triple..." No way, really? I'm sure in the future it will also quadruple, and so on. Thanks for explaining that for us.
But the kicker is the addition of causing "catastrophic increase in the temperature". The alarmist nature of climate change is what bothers people on the right. I understand the climate changes, and I understand we have some part in it. It's not that much, and until alternative energy gets better, shutting down coal with silly(actually outrageous) Mercury testing will only cost the American people money at a time when we can't afford it.
Here's a thought, Mr. President. How about nominating people who actually know something about what those agencies regulate? What does an anthropologist know about regulating air and water pollution? What does a physics professor know about, coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy production in the U.S.? How about nominating an energy secretary who thinks that energy production should grow to meet the real economic needs of people rather than be arbitrarily restricted by the mythical fears of a minority of Chicken Littles?
@ Lauren --- lol Awesome
You'd think that at some point Obama would run out of LGTB and testosteroneless clones to appoint, but evidently he's still working from a vast pool of unqualified bozos.
Well, that's the thing. He' still in campaign mode and hasn't switched to governing yet. The bozos are there for that. Oh don't misunderstand me, he has tried to rule.
And I actually feel bad for saying this because they have a place in this world, but since when were Professors the foremost experts in these fields. Although I understand some do work in the field while they teach, it definitely doesn't apply to most teachers.
I remember my teachers in college, oh poor poor folks. They didn't have a clue, but they helped me get into the real world where half of what they taught me was either outdated even at the time or flat out wrong...lol.
Not that I like this return to politics any more than the half dozen comments above. I don't. Popsci, don't relapse now.
On that note, as a point of fairness I will say the MIT professor does have a decent record of pushing for Nuclear power and Fracking.
Fracking is clean, verified to be environmentally safe, and doesn't produce as much CO2 (not that that actually matters, but hey, it sells!). It will keep our economy running along on cheap energy for the next 100 years as we naturally transition to more renewable energy sources - primarily nuclear and solar.
Nuclear is similarly a far safer, cleaner, and more reliable energy source than anything else we currently have. It needs to have start-up costs reduced, and it needs to look into alternative fuel cycles like Thorium, but it is still one of the very best options.
Solar and Wind are nothing but supplemental. And until energy storage improves by a significant factor, they are too expensive, and fluctuate far too much. Also, their raw energy collection is too spatially inefficient. (50,000 50 story windmills to power New York? No thanks.) It will be financially viable to have these supplements plastered about the country within the next 20 years as tech improves. But it isn't now, and it won't ever be a mainstay.
So, here's to picking an energy secretary without a delusional take on wind and solar's ultimate potential, or a purely emotional aversion to nuclear or shale power. Of all the picks Obama could've gone with, Ernest Moniz isn't the worst.
Those two look like something out of a mental institution
Obviously, since "climate change" would imply either warming or cooling, just what approach does the President propose to use to keep the global climate precisely where it is?
If the goal is to reduce CO2 emissions, then the US has already achieved larger reductions in annual CO2 emissions for the past 3 or 4 years than any other country on earth. But these CO2 reductions were not the result of the President's energy policies. They were the result of advanced drilling technologies produced by the oil companies. And they progressed in spite of efforts by the President to stop them.