I did not understand the enthusiasm with which some of my nuclear energy colleagues greeted the selection and appointment of Ernest Moniz as the new Secretary of Energy. He is a natural gas advocate who professes undue conservatism about the potential value of nuclear energy. Read and compare the MIT reports produced under his direction, The Future of Natural Gas and The Future of Nuclear Power.
Here is the enthusiastic introductory paragraph of The Future of Natural Gas:
Natural gas is ﬁnding its place at the heart of the energy discussion. The recent emergence of substantial new supplies of natural gas in the U.S., primarily as a result of the remarkable speed and scale of shale gas development, has heightened awareness of natural gas as a key component of indigenous energy supply and has lowered prices well below recent expectations.
This study seeks to inform discussion about the future of natural gas, particularly in a carbon constrained economy.
Here is the cautious conclusion of the Executive Summary of the 2009 update to The Future of Nuclear Power:
The central premise of the 2003 MIT Study on the Future of Nuclear Power was that the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in order to
mitigate global warming, justified reevaluating the role of nuclear power in
the country’s energy future. The 2003 study identified the challenges to greater deployment and argued that the key need was to design, build, and operate a few first-of-a-kind nuclear plants with government assistance, to demonstrate to the public, political leaders, and investors the technical performance, cost, and environmental acceptability of the technology. After five years, no new plants are under construction in the United States and insufficient progress has been made on waste management. The current assistance program put into place by the 2005 EPACT has not yet been effective and needs to be improved. 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.
Yesterday, my concerns about Dr. Moniz were confirmed when I read a brief notice in the Washington Post indicating that he had selected Kevin Knobloch, who has served as the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for the past ten years. One of my contacts within the DOE sent an email from inside the organization. He included Dr. Moniz’s internal announcement following his pithy response to that correspondence.
I am done.
The inmates are running the damn asylum.
Anyone need help?
From: Secretary Moniz
Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:55 PM
Subject: Announcing Kevin Knobloch as the New Chief of Staff
Over the past few weeks, one of my top priorities has been to assemble a leadership team of incredibly talented individuals from both inside and outside the Department. I am pleased to announce that Kevin Knobloch will be joining us on Monday, June 24 as Chief of Staff and will be managing this team as we work together to execute the Department’s critical mission.
Kevin brings 35 years of experience in public policy, government, advocacy, and media to his job as Chief of Staff of the Energy Department. He joins us after serving as the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists for the past ten years, where he led the science-based organization’s analytical, legislative, and policy functions. Before that, Kevin held a number of roles on Capitol Hill, as a journalist, and with an environmental organization. I am confident that Kevin’s deep understanding of energy issues and experience as an outstanding manager will be of incredible value to the Department.
Please join me in welcoming Kevin in his new capacity as Chief of Staff.
For those who still believe that the Union of Concerned Scientists is anything but a professional antinuclear organization that believes that the only safe nuclear plants are the ones that are permanently shut down, please visit the organization’s web site and read its carefully worded position on nuclear energy. Here is a quote from that page:
Nuclear power is an inherently hazardous technology; there’s no way to make it perfectly safe.
If that does not convince you, perhaps you could read Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies. One more suggestion would be to read Mr. Knobloch’s own writing on the challenge of climate change and try to find a single mention of the ‘N’ word as an important tool in fight.
I hope you all can understand the irony of this situation. We have a man who played a key role in a report that acknowledges the important role that nuclear energy can play in mitigating climate change if the government will implement certain key programs to enable its growth. That man is selected for to be the head honcho at the agency that is tasked by the Congress to provide that assistance. One of his first decisive acts in that new position is to hire his official gate keeper and access controller. (That is the role of a Chief of Staff.) His choice for that important role is a man that has spent the past ten years leading an organization that denies the value of nuclear energy, claims it is not viable without subsidies, and fights all efforts to provide any kind of enabling assistance. Hmmm.
Is there anyone else who can see through this to recognize that there is a plan in place to do everything possible to slow the development of nuclear energy as a competitive power source so that the natural gas industry (aka the oil industry) can become even more prosperous and powerful than it already is?