Democratic News

Apr 09 2013

Wyden Announces Support for Moniz to lead Energy Department

Wins commitments on Hanford, natural gas exports and energy storage plan

Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced his support for Dr. Ernest Moniz to serve as the next Secretary of Energy, at the close of a hearing on Moniz’s nomination Tuesday.

“You have the expertise and it’s clear you have built a lot of goodwill with senators on both sides of the aisle,” Wyden said. “I plan to support your nomination.”

Wyden pressed Moniz on how the Department of Energy will resolve ongoing issues at the Hanford nuclear waste site in Richland, Washington, where the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board highlighted several serious safety and design problems, in a letter last week.

“It is flatly unacceptable that DOE still has no acceptable plan for cleaning up hazardous waste on the banks of the Columbia River, half-a-century after the contamination occurred and more than a decade since you served as Undersecretary of Energy,” Wyden said at the hearing.

In response, Moniz committed to visit the Hanford Site, meet with the DNFSB and develop a plan to put the Hanford cleanup on track.

“I think we need to work together to put together a real plan to move forward,” Moniz said at the hearing.

Moniz also committed to review the Energy Department’s flawed study on natural gas exports, which relied on outdated information and failed to examine the regional impacts of exporting LNG. Moniz agreed to craft a department-wide plan to encourage energy storage – which is critical to integrating renewables into and improving the reliability of the power grid – and present a timeline for doing so within 30 days.

Given the “breadth of support” for Moniz at the hearing, Wyden said he hopes to swiftly pass Moniz’s nomination out of the committee.

“The sooner our committee can vote to recommend Dr. Moniz, the sooner he can get to work,” Wyden said after the hearing.