Washington, D.C.— In anticipation of his rumored appointment of Dr. Ernest Moniz to the position of Secretary of Energy, Americans Against Fracking today urged President Obama to reconsider his selection. As director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, whose founding members include Shell, Saudi Aramco, ENI and BP Technology Ventures, Inc., Moniz has been a vocal proponent of natural gas obtained through the dangerous and controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” In aletter to the president, signed by 350.org, Breast Cancer Action, CREDO, Democracy for America, Food & Water Watch, actor and director Mark Ruffalo and Dr. Sandra Steingraber on behalf of Americans Against Fracking, the groups and renewable energy advocates point out that due to his close ties to the oil and gas industry, Moniz’s appointment would be a major step backwards in addressing the challenges associated with global climate change.
“You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to know that hydraulic fracturing is no answer to our nation’s energy needs, yet President Obama is poised to appoint one who also happens to be a cheerleader for this polluting process,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “The next Secretary of Energy will play a key role in deciding how we address climate change, and President Obama needs to appoint an actual proponent of green energy to guide our nation’s energy future.”
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.”
Together, Food & Water Watch and CREDO have collected almost 125,000 signatures to petitions urging the president to reconsider his rumored appointment.
“We cannot frack our way to energy independence without accelerating climate change and contaminating our water,” said Becky Bond, political director of CREDO. “If President Obama is serious about defending us from climate change and protecting our access to clean water, he won’t appoint Ernest Moniz, who has advocated in favor of expanding fracking, to head up the Department of Energy.”
The rumored appointment of Moniz 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.
“With coral reefs dissolving, ice caps melting, and amber waves of grain shriveling on the stalk, we need bold, foresightful leadership on climate change. Promoting Ernest Moniz to the position of Secretary of Energy is not leadership, not bold and not foresightful. It’s a bow to a fossilized past,” remarked Sandra Steingraber, a distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking.
Last Sunday, 50,000 people came to Washington, D.C. to urge President Obama to solve the climate crisis. In addition to the decisions regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline and approving permits to export more supplies of natural gas overseas, the appointment of a new Secretary of Energy is considered by many a pivotal moment in shaping the president’s legacy on climate change.
View the letter here: http://fwwat.ch/Zo3gnl
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, kfried(at)fwwatch.org, (202) 683-4905