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One on One

by Michael A. Fletcher



s U.S. energy secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz is a central fig- ure to the success of President Barack Obama’s agenda. Moniz’s job is critical to growing the economy, enhanc-

ing national security, and protecting the environment. Moniz, a physicist, professor and Washington veteran who took office last year, is a proponent of the president’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. He is also the Obama administration’s point- person when it comes to maintaining the nuclear deterrent and reducing the nuclear danger, promoting American leader- ship in science and clean energy technology innovation, and cleaning up the nuclear waste that is a lasting legacy of the Cold War.

Before coming to Washington, Moniz was the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a faculty member since 1973. At MIT, he headed the Depart- ment of Physics and the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. Most recently, Dr. Moniz served as the founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative and of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

During the final term of the Clinton administration, Moniz was an Energy Department undersecretary, where he oversaw sci- ence and energy programs, led a comprehensive review of nu- clear weapons stockpile stewardship, and served as the special negotiator for the disposition of Russian nuclear materials. From 1995 to 1997, he served as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. In addition, Moniz has served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

A Massachusetts native, Moniz earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Boston College, and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University. He also holds honorary de- grees from the University of Athens, the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg, Michigan State University and Universidad Pontifi- cia de Comillas.

HE&IT recently talked to him about his policy priorities, as well as job opportunities for minorities in the energy sector. The conversation follows here:

HE&IT: You have said energy efficiency is one of your top priorities as energy secretary. Why? And is this vision hard to rally people around?

Secretary Moniz: First, I want to say that we emphasize all of the above. Efficiency is one element of that. I made a special

Ernest Moniz, U.S. secretary of energy

emphasis on efficiency very early on because it is pretty widely agreed that many of the nearest-term opportunities for mak- ing progress in terms of lower emissions, for example, comes through efficiency. In turn, a lot of the actions that one can take on energy efficiency pay for themselves with relatively short payback periods. That really is why we have a strong focus there. This applies in many sectors.

It applies to buildings, of course. Residential and commercial buildings use something like 70 percent of the electricity in the United States. With vehicles, you will recall that President Obama has put in place aggressive fuel efficiency standards that would require of 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025. Industry, quite frankly, tends to be ahead of the other sectors as the sav- ings go right to the bottom line. So these are all opportunities. The way we approach them is varied.

Clearly, a lot of it is technology development. One of the real technology developments in the efficiency space that has been amazing is the continued cost reduction of LED lighting. You use about one sixth of the energy compared to incandescent

HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2014 9

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