February 21 News: Gina McCarthy And Ernie Moniz Are Frontrunners To Lead EPA And DOE

Sources tell Reuters that President Obama intends to nominate air quality expert Gina McCarthy to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy, with the announcements possibly coming as early as this week. [Reuters]

McCarthy would likely become the face of Obama’s latest push to fight climate change. Currently the assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, she would replace Lisa Jackson, who stepped down as EPA chief this month.

Moniz, a former undersecretary of energy during the Clinton administration, is director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative, a research group that gets funding from industry heavyweights including BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco for academic work on projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.

Moniz would replace Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, who is stepping down.

The source said announcements of the two nominations were possible this week but were more likely to come later.

[JR: Moniz was a professor of mine at M.I.T. in 1981 (!) and a colleague at DOE in 1997. I think he’d be a fine choice, and will have more to say when the nomination is official.]

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has released its scorecard of votes on their key issues for the 112th Congress. While a number of House Members hewed to AFP’s preferred position on every last vote considered, Marco Rubio (R-FL) was the only senator to do so. [AFP]

The League of Conservation Voters also released their annual scorecard. 85 House members and 37 senators received a score of 90 percent or higher, while 175 House members and 17 senators received a score of 10 percent or less. [LCV]

The League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard also found the last Congress was the most hostile to environmental causes in 40 years, the group said on Wednesday. [The Guardian]

Activist investors have succeeded in placing a shareholder resolution on the risks of greenhouse-gas emissions up for a vote at PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh. It’s the first time such a resolution is being considered by the shareholders of a major bank. [LATimes]

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a public meeting to be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on March 8, to discuss new standards to be required for renewable fuels in 2013. [The Hill]

Tesla Motors Inc. reported a larger-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter, but its revenue of $306 million beat expectations. [LATimes]

Iceland is looking for a way to sell the vast surplus electricity it produces from geothermal and renewable power to the European Union — it just needs to find a way to transmit it across more than 1,000 miles of frigid sea. [NYTimes]

European Union member states have approved a plan to register solar panels from China, as the latest step towards imposing duties on the 21 billion euro ($28.08 billion) import market. [Reuters]

In Chile’s ongoing quest to harness its vast green energy resources, a team of scientists is testing conditions in the country’s southern Chacao Channel in the hopes that it may prove to be a bastion for tidal energy. [Santiago Times]

11 Responses to February 21 News: Gina McCarthy And Ernie Moniz Are Frontrunners To Lead EPA And DOE

  1. onyerlefty says:

    In 2009, Moniz contributed to MIT’s study group for its “Update to the 2003 Future of Nuclear Report”:

    “In sum, compared to 2003, the motivation to make more use of nuclear power is greater, and more rapid progress is needed in enabling the option of nuclear power expansion to play a role in meeting the global warming challenge. The sober warning is that if more is not done, nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely option for deployment at a scale that would constitute a material contribution to climate change risk mitigation.”

  2. Sasparilla says:

    “1.5C rise in temperature enough to start permafrost melt, scientists warn” according to geologic records in Siberia for widespread permafrost melting, initial melting started at .6c-.7c (about where we are).

    The permafrost feedback appears to kick in on a wide scale .5c before our safe 2.0c temperature rise, Doh! Looking at caves in Siberia scientists can see when the permafrost melted and stopped melting in the past and have tied that to a 1.5c warming (I think we already are at .5c with another .5c in the pipeline). Scientists said permafrost thawing appeared to start at .6 to .7c (about where we are) but became widespread at 1.5c.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I was of the belief that permafrost was already melting. Am I misinformed?

  4. prokaryotes says:

    “BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco for academic work on projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.”


  5. prokaryotes says:

    These are findings based on 2 cave stalagmite melts in Siberia above a certain latitude. It’s about the continious permafrost layer there (which i think can go deep down to 50 or more meters). The SWIPA publications i remember contain a lot of discussions on all these permafrost layers.

  6. Carol says:

    RE: Ernest Moniz as frontrunner to head DOE:

    Joe, you say—-
    JR: “Moniz was a professor of mine at M.I.T. in 1981 (!) and a colleague at DOE in 1997. I think he’d be a fine choice, and will have more to say when the nomination is official.”

    Daniel Weiss says:

    “The next secretary of energy is going to reflect the administration’s views, and its approach seems to be that fracking should proceed but in a way that doesn’t worsen air, water and climate pollution,” Weiss said. “Dr. Moniz’s views of this are going to reflect the administration’s policies. I suspect he will be supportive of fracking with increased environmental protections.”

    and from Food and Water Watch:

    “The choice of Moniz, known for his adamant support for fracking—which he’s called “paradigm-shifting”—seems to confirm reporting last week that a major part of Obama’s plans for energy creation in his second term will be to “initiate widespread gas fracking in the US.”
    “Mr. Moniz is affiliated with the industry-backed MIT Energy Initiative, so we shouldn’t be surprised about his favorable position on fracking,” said Mitch Jones from Food & Water Watch. “But President Obama could do a lot better.”
    “Appointing Mr. Moniz,” Jones continued, “would be a nail in the coffin for one of his most lauded inaugural speech promises: a commitment to focus on climate solutions.”

    Do you really think Moniz is a “fine” choice? Thoughts on any of this?

  7. MarkfromLexington says:

    Credo Action has just sent out an email opposing the appointment of Moniz. The title of the email is – “Don’t appoint this fracking guy”

    From the Credo email

    “Moniz’s Energy Institute at MIT is sponsored by the likes of BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco. So it is no surprise that the gas industry and pro-fracking groups welcomed the rumor of Moniz’s appointment to head the DOE.”2

    “Moniz is a strong backer of the deeply flawed notion that we should expand our fracking infrastructure and development to serve as a “bridge” to low-carbon sources of energy.”3

    What is your opinion of these claims?
    Here are the sources for the Credo claims.

    2. “Will Ernest Moniz be the next Energy secretary?,” Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2013
    3. “Will Obama Appoint Fracking Proponent Ernest Moniz to Energy Secretary?” Alternet, February 8, 2013

  8. Joe Romm says:

    Obama is a fracking proponent, so I hardly think he’d pick an opponent to run DOE.

  9. Joe Romm says:

    Actually DOE doesn’t have much control over fracking’s future. EPA does! So yes for Moniz — and yes for McCarthy.

  10. Stephen says:

    Please don’t let it be Moniz. I’ve gotten into public spats with him over untrue things he’s said about wind energy’s reliability. Gas industry bias also permeates many of the public events he’s held at MIT. I will be severely disappointed in our President if Moniz is really his pick.

  11. Stephen says:

    For great pictures of Ernie taking multi-million dollar checks from Chevron and BP, check out page 5 of the latest MIT Energy magazine: