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Future Energy Policies Remain Uncertain After New Nominations

by Lucas Eaves, published

Credit: oil refinery/

On Monday, President Obama announced two major nominations: the new administrator of the EPA and the U.S. Secretary of Energy. These choices will help shape the way climate change, protection of the environment, and future energy policies will be addressed during the president's second term. Tweet it: Tweet

President Obama's commitment to tackle environmental issues in the next four years is evident in his pick for the top position at the EPA, Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy currently heads the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. Obama also picked MIT physicist Ernest Monitz to head the U.S. Department of Energy. Share this article: Tweet

These two individuals have a history of being outspoken about the dangers of climate change and the need to address it. However, the differences between Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Moniz raises concern over how the two agencies will work together to achieve the administration's goals.

Ms. McCarthy, as a senior officer in the EPA for the last four years, has been a driving force behind the tough new emission standards for cars, light trucks,  as well as the tightened standards for mercury and other harmful pollutants in the air. She also participated in the creation of EPA regulations for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollutants which would make it nearly impossible to open a new coal-powered plant.

However, as a consequence for her activities with the EPA, Ms. McCarthy has received heavy criticism, especially from representatives of states where economic development is based on exploiting natural resources such as coal, natural gas, or oil. She is, however, appreciated by the regulated industries for her openness in discussing in these issues.

While being a believer in the need to face the issue of climate change, Mr. Moniz has taken the approach that the next few decades will be a transition period. He believes low carbon emission energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear energy, and coal with carbon capture and storage will be necessary in the near future.

His “all-of-the-above” energy approach has been criticized by environmental organizations, especially in regards to the use of gas produced by fracking and nuclear energy.

Under Mr. Moniz, the MIT Energy Initiative released a report in favor of fracking when industry best practices are applied. The multi-millions in funding for the MIT Energy Initiative from major gas and oil companies has cast doubts on the independence of the study. Share the news: Tweet

While some are worried by Mr. Moniz's proximity with the industry, many see it has an opportunity for the Obama administration to work closely with key players in the energy industry to develop a comprehensive approach to this issue.

With these nominations, the president is keeping his promise to address the issue of climate change and change the country's energy policies. How this will happen remains uncertain..

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