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Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Energy nominee supports nuclear complex
Energy nominee supports nuclear complex By Michael Coleman Albuquerque Journal Washington Bureau Wed, Apr 10, 2013 WASHINGTON – Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for energy secretary, offered strong support for the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, as well as enhanced domestic natural gas production, during his confirmation hearing Tuesday. Obama has tapped Moniz, director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, to lead the Department of Energy, which oversees New Mexico’s two nuclear laboratories. In his testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, Moniz pointed out that he has significant experience in the nuclear weapons realm. In the late 1990s, Moniz led a review of DOE’s stockpile stewardship program, and he has helped negotiate for heightened security of Russian nuclear weapons materials. Moniz told the committee Tuesday that nuclear stockpile stewardship will remain a critical part of the Department of Energy’s mission. “DOE expertise, to a large extent drawing on the knowledge, skills and commitment of our national laboratory scientists and a technically versed intelligence group, is critical to our national defense,” he said. “If confirmed, I intend to make sure these DOE assets continue to sustain the nation’s nuclear security.” Moniz’s remarks, delivered during his opening statement, could reassure those concerned about deep cuts in nuclear weapons spending during Obama’s second term. A greatly constricted federal budget climate, coupled with Obama’s stated goals of reducing the nation’s nuclear stockpile, have some advocates of Los Alamos and Sandia National laboratories in New Mexico worried about budget cuts. The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a consortium of groups critical of U.S. nuclear policy, is gathering in Washington this week to protest what it calls bloated spending on nuclear weapons at the expense of nuclear cleanup. “The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is concerned that out-of-control spending on nuclear weapons will divert resources from legally required environmental cleanup, dismantlement, and critical nonproliferation efforts,” the groups said in a statement. Moniz also lauded increased natural gas production but stopped short of endorsing U.S. exports of the fuel. He said that if confirmed, he would support renewable energy such as wind and solar, along with coal and nuclear power. “The president is an all-of-the above person, and I am an all-of-the above person,” Moniz said. Moniz had a familiar advocate in his corner at this morning’s hearing. Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat and former chairman of the Senate energy committee, formally introduced him to the committee. Bingaman offered a glowing review of Moniz’s qualifications, lauding his scientific expertise, management capabilities and “unquestionable” ability to oversee the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.
By scooby at April 10, 2013
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