Obama nominates new EPA, Energy heads

Obama nominates Ernest Moniz as Energy Secretary, Gina McCarthy as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)Monday morning the news was aflutter with President Obama announcing new appointees to head the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the two offices most tied to solar and renewable energy. For the Energy Department he nominated former Energy Department undersecretary Ernest Moniz, who has led MIT’s Energy Initiative. He also nominated Assistant EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy to lead the EPA. The two, if approved, will replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, both of whom served throughout Obama’s first four years. The appointments drew praise from environmental and renewable energy organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“The DOE has been a critically important partner in the solar industry’s efforts to make solar technology more affordable and help break down barriers to solar deployment across the nation to establish America as a leader in clean energy,” said SEIA CEO Rhone Resch. “Dr. Moniz’s prior leadership at DOE and MIT will be instrumental in promoting the innovation across the solar value chain to develop a strong clean energy economy.”

NRDC President Frances Beinecke agreed. “This is good news. Professor Moniz has the hands-on experience and the expertise needed to help further the climate and energy goals our country urgently needs,” she said. “His background, coupled with his long history of constructive engagement with, and at, the Energy Department, will serve the American people well. We look forward to working with him to advance a clean energy future based on efficiency and renewable power.”

Regarding the nomination of McCarthy, who has been called “Obama’s green quarterback” also drew praise from Resch and Beinecke. “McCarthy knows what it means to protect our air, water, land and health and stand up to the growing threats we’re seeing from climate change,” Beinecke said.

“As the assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation and throughout her work in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Gina McCarthy has shown that she understands the importance of renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our air clean for future generations,” Resch said. He added that during Jackson’s tenure the agency was able to show that clean energy helps grow the economy while helping to protect the environment.