Obama selects new energy secretary and EPA chief

5 Mar 2013

President Barack Obama announces the nominations of (from left) Ernest Moniz as Energy Secretary, Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator, and Sylvia Mathews Burwell as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Photo by White House/Lawrence Jackson

US President Barack Obama has announced his nominees to take on the roles of Energy Secretary and head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Obama has nominated MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz as Energy Secretary and Gina McCarthy as the new administrator at the EPA.

Speaking at an event in the White House yesterday, Obama announced his nominees for the two posts. The nominees have yet to be approved by Congress, however.

The President also revealed his selection of Sylvia Matthews Burwell to take on the post of director of the Office of Management and Budget.

If Moniz is approved for the role of Energy Secretary, he will take over from Steven Chu to head the Department of Energy.

Moniz, a nuclear physicist, is professor of physics and engineering systems at MIT. He also is the director of the Energy Initiative at MIT.

His main research focus areas have been in theoretical nuclear physics and in energy technology and policy studies. He has been on the MIT faculty since 1973.

Moniz served as under secretary of the Department of Energy under President Bill Clinton from 1997 until January 2001. Between 1995 and 1997 Moniz was associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the office of the president.

Currently, he is a member of Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Energy expertise

Yesterday, Obama described Moniz as a “brilliant scientist”.

“Now, the good news is that Ernie already knows his way around the Department of Energy. He is a physicist by training, but he also served as under secretary of Energy under president Clinton,” said Obama.

“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,” added the president before going on to announce his nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead the EPA.

McCarthy is currently assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. She also served as head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009.

If she is selected to lead the EPA, McCarthy will take over from Lisa Jackson.

Obama described McCarthy as a “straight shooter”. 

“She welcomes different points of views. I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA,” he said.

Finally, Obama had this to say about his two nominees, Moriz and McCarthy: “They’re going to be making sure that we’re investing in American energy, that we’re doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we’re going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic