New Energy Secretary on Climate Change: ‘I’m Not Here to Debate What’s Not Debatable’

Elizabeth Harrington | May 30, 2013 | 11:22am EDT
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Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz of Massachusetts, testifies at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

( – Ernest Moniz, the nation’s new Energy Secretary, said climate change is “not debatable” in one of his first speeches on the job.

"I'm not here to debate what’s not debatable,” Moniz said at the White House Leadership Summit on Women, Climate and Energy on May 23.  “The threat from climate change is real and urgent.”

“The science fully demands a prudent response,” he said, referring to recent reports that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising to levels not seen for millions of years.

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“Just this month, as you know, kind of symbolically hitting essentially 400 [parts per million] CO2 -- of course, that’s not including the non-CO2 greenhouse gases, which really pump you up to about 450, in effect. So we really need to get after this,” Moniz said. “It’s an important imperative.”

Moniz said the only “legitimate debate” regarding climate change involves solutions to the problem, not its cause.

Under his leadership, Moniz said the Department of Energy will emphasize energy efficiency, which he called a “classic win-win-win situation.”

Among other things, DOE is developing new efficiency standards for appliances.

And it recently announced a new manufacturing initiative to improve wide bandgap semiconductors, which allow power electronic components to be smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient than their silicon-based counterparts.

Energy efficiency in appliance standards, buildings, industry and vehicles, is an area “that we certainly intend to try to amplify the efforts of the department and the administration with a strong full court press,” he said.

Moniz, 68, formerly a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was sworn in as Secretary of Energy on May 21.  He replaces Steven Chu, who resigned on April 22.

Moniz said he took the job because of President Barack Obama’s commitment to climate change.

“The President has already stated his very, very strong commitment to clean energy, a low carbon economy, and addressing the risks of climate change,” he said.  “And frankly, this is the reason I came back to town.”

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