President Barack Obama plans to nominate pro-hydraulic fracking Massacusetts Institute of Technology nuclear scientist Ernest Moniz as his next Secretary of Energy, a move that has sparked outrage among some environmentalists.
“Appointing Mr. Moniz would be a nail in the coffin for one of his most lauded inaugural speech promises: a commitment to focus on climate solutions,” says Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter.
Moniz served as the former undersecretary of energy for President Bill Clinton and is currently the director of the MIT’s Energy Initiative, which is funded by BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco.
“Mr. Moniz is a known cheerleader for exploiting our reserves of natural gas using a highly controversial and polluting practice known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”),” says Hauter. “His appointment to the DOE could set renewable energy development back years.”
The Moniz nomination further telegraphs Obama’s intention to quietly pursue natural gas development that analysts say may lead to a “shale revolution” that would produce big profits and high-paying jobs. In the last two years alone, manufacturers have poured $90 billion in U.S. investments into natural gas.
Last May, Obama quietly eased up on important fracking regulations that would have slowed energy exploration in Ohio. Obama’s liberal base has also shown a willingness to bend its anti-fracking principles when it is profitable to do so. In 2008 and 2009, for example, the liberal think tank Center for American Progress accepted $453,250 from natural gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens.
Whether the Moniz appointment will further alienate Obama’s base supporters remains to be seen. Environmentalists have already begun mobilizing online petitions opposing his nomination.