With Gina McCarthy’s departure as top White House Climate Advisor imminent (though as of now unconfirmed), the successor for this essential, non-Senate confirmed position is subject to speculation. Of all the names being floated, Ernest Moniz (Undersecretary of Energy from 1997-2001 and Secretary of Energy from 2013-2017) may be the worst. Here are just some of the many reasons why.
- Ernest Moniz is so involved with fossil energy that his influence can be directly tied to an increase in methane emissions over the past decade.
- Moniz led an influential fossil fuel-funded study championing “natural” gas in 2010 which helped create the architecture for the Obama administration’s fracked gas export regime.
- He also served on the board of the Gas Technology Institute, which sponsored his influential MIT “The Future of Natural Gas” study. Other MIT Energy Initiative funders who are also founding members include ExxonMobil, Shell, and Italian supermajor oil company Eni S.p.A..
- A decade ago, Moniz was singing the praises of the “all of the above” energy strategy he implemented as Obama’s Energy Secretary — a phrase that’s now most often heard from the mouth of coal baron Joe Manchin, the man determined to sabotage the future of life on earth to preserve his modest coal fortune.
- “All of the above” means supporting increased fossil fuel development alongside renewable energy. The world’s top energy agency stated clearly that there can be no new fossil fuel development if we want to preserve a livable environment. Moniz’s priorities, like Manchin’s, are incompatible with a survivable future.
- Let’s be clear: “natural” gas is not a “bridge fuel,” it’s as bad as coal for the climate because of how much methane it leaks. Pro-gas policies like those Moniz has long supported are not just irresponsible and unscientific — they’re murderous.
- Moniz has been revolving back and forth between positions in the Energy Department and positions on the boards of energy companies for over a decade. He was being called out for ethics issues and fossil fuel ties during Obama’s presidency.
- All of this is why, when rumored as a candidate for Biden’s Secretary of Energy, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and other environmental groups staged protests against him.
- Moniz sits on the Board of Directors of the Southern Company, which was identified by the Center for Biological Diversity as a top offender in the utility company “Hall of Shame,” which documents 12 providers that have shut off power to American families more than three million times during the pandemic.
- The Southern Company deserves condemnation not only for increasing shareholder payouts while disconnecting American families during the pandemic, but for doubling down on methane gas and opposing climate policy, further undermining the energy security of its customers.
- The Southern Company has funded misinformation ads and fake research denying climate change. Its CEO has espoused climate change denialism. And that’s not the only climate denialist company shelling out money to Ernest Moniz.
- Moniz served on BP’s board for its “Energy Sustainability Challenge.” This means he took oil money to help launder BP’s reputation while the company continued to endanger the climate.
- He also worked for consulting firm ICF International, which has connections to the American Petroleum Institute.
- Moniz also has ties to private equity — he was on boards for NGP Technology Partners and Angeleno Group. At Angeleno, some of his fellow board members were a former BP executive, a Chevron board member, and Ronald Reagan’s EPA Chief.
- Another board Moniz served on at TAE Technologies was funded in part by Rusnano Group, a Russian state-owned nanotech company.
- On top of all of this, he also was a founding member of the Board of Trustees at a Saudi petroleum studies and research center funded by government (read: oil) money.
- Moniz founded the nonprofit “Energy Futures Initiative” and brought on the former BP CEO as its chair. He launched the Energy Futures Initiative the same day he launched his for-profit consulting firm EJM Associates in 2017.
- You can imagine what EJM means when they say they help develop energy solutions “embraced by policy makers across the political spectrum.” Read: successfully propagandized non-solutions, embraced by corporate cronies in both parties.
- EJM Associates is in partnership with G2 Net-Zero LNG, a methane gas exporting company that Moniz’s Energy Department authorized in 2015 to export methane gas for the next 30 years. Methane is 80 times more potent than CO2 at warming the planet in the first 20 years after its release. By the time that contract is up in 2045, almost half of the earth’s species may well be extinct.
If we want climate policy dictated by someone with ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, oil companies, private equity, and methane gas, Moniz fits the bill. If we want a better future, then his appointment would be a nail in our coffin. Moniz has wielded his power and influence both inside and outside of the government to the financial benefit of the fossil fuel industry and to the detriment of humanity’s future and the earth’s fast-dwindling, indispensable, and irreplaceable biodiversity.
We are firmly on track toward an unlivable world. And a man whose entire career is marked by hubris and greed, who touts the false benefits of methane gas and makes millions from fossil fuel firms and their allies, is being raised as a candidate for White House National Climate Advisor. To put our position plainly, “No.”
PHOTO CREDIT: “Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz” by Argonne National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.