It’s crunch time as President Obama’s pick to head the Dept. of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, headed to his confirmation hearings beginning yesterday with U.S. Senators. More than 100 extremist anti-drilling "groups" have joined forces under the banner "Americans Against Fracking" (AAF) to throw verbal tomatoes at the good doctor. AAF sent a letter (full copy embedded below) to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The letter is signed by 100 individuals masquerading as groups, asking the Senators to reject Dr. Moniz because of his "deep ties to the oil and gas industry."
It doesn’t matter that Dr. Moniz is really smart—like Albert Einstein smart. He made a tragic error by uttering words no liberal can ever utter without dire repercussions: fracking and natural gas are (gasp!) OK and will help get us to the alternative energy nirvana future. Such sentiments are just not acceptable to Food & Water Watch and the other eco-nut "groups" who signed the letter…
As the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee conducts confirmation hearings to fill the position of Secretary of Energy, Americans Against Fracking, a broad-based coalition of public health, consumer, labor and environmental groups, today sent the committee a letter urging it to reject Dr. Ernest Moniz’s nomination. Opposition to Dr. Moniz has escalated over recent months as his deep ties to the oil and gas industry have come to light. Over 100 groups including Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy for America, 350.org, Breast Cancer Action and Food & Water Watch signed on to the letter to voice their concern about Dr. Moniz’s nomination.
“We can’t let big oil and gas appoint our next energy secretary,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “As director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, Dr. Moniz has been an outspoken proponent of natural gas. But appointing Dr. Moniz to help shape our nation’s energy agenda would be akin to tapping a fast food CEO to draw up the next food pyramid—completely inappropriate.”
According to a recent Public Accountability Initiative report, the MIT Energy Initiative has received pledges of over $145 million from oil and gas industry companies including $50 million from BP and $25 million each from ENI, Saudi Aramco and Shell. As an individual, Dr. Moniz has received compensation from BP’s Technology Advisory Council, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah’s Petroleum Studies and Research Center and ICF International, among others. Dr. Moniz has also served on the boards of the Gas Technology Institute and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, which both promote the natural gas industry.
“Oil and gas extracted by fracking is not ‘clean’ energy,” said Karuna Jaggar, executive director at Breast Cancer Action. “Fracking is an inherently dangerous process that exposes the public to hundreds of chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors linked to breast cancer and other health harms. We are disappointed in the nomination of Dr. Moniz as energy secretary because of his continued support for this toxic process that threatens public health now and for many years to come.”
Those opposed to Moniz’s nomination are concerned that under his leadership, the U.S. will expand fossil fuel extraction at the expense of aggressively deploying renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power. In testimony before Congress in July of 2011, Moniz referred to “environmental risks, which arise from shale development” including “contamination of groundwater aquifers with drilling fluids or natural gas” as “challenging but manageable.” He has also referred to natural gas as “a cost-effective bridge to…a low carbon future.”
“Big oil and gas already has hundreds of lobbyists on Capitol Hill; the last thing we need is a Secretary doing their bidding from the Department of Energy,” said Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America. “Americans deserve a Secretary of Energy who will fight the moneyed interests that are risking water supplies in communities all across the country, not another ‘yes’ man.”
Dr. Moniz’s nomination to Secretary of Energy comes on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to address the increasing threat of climate change. But extracting, transporting and burning natural gas all contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and worsen global climate change. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted from burning natural gas, significant amounts of methane leak as new wells are fracked and as natural gas is transported. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 70 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years according to a 2009 study published in Science Magazine. According to the International Energy Agency, increased global dependence on natural gas would, by 2035, increase the global average temperature by about 6.3 percent Fahrenheit.
Read the letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee here.*
*Food & Water Watch (Apr 9, 2013) – Secretary of Energy or Oil and Gas Industry Puppet?
Letter sent by “Americans Against Fracking” to the Senate committee: