Cantwell Statement on Confirmation of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be Next Energy Secretary

Cantwell: ‘Ready to hit the ground running as Energy Secretary’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Dr. Ernest Moniz to be Secretary of Energy by a vote of 97 to 0.

“Dr. Moniz is extremely qualified and will be ready to hit the ground running as Energy Secretary,” said Cantwell. “With today’s unanimous vote, Americans will have a new Energy Secretary who knows the importance of investing in 21st century energy innovation, and is prepared to tackle the many tough challenges that await him at the Department of Energy.

“I am encouraged that Dr. Moniz has a deep background in energy issues vital to the Pacific Northwest: From accelerating hydropower and other clean energy solutions, to maintaining cost-based power at the Bonneville Power Administration, to ensuring that Hanford cleanup is based on good science and existing timelines. I look forward to welcoming Dr. Moniz to Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other key sites in Washington state.”

Cantwell voted to approve Dr. Moniz’s nomination at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee markup on April 18. On April 9, during an ENR nominating hearing for Dr. Moniz, Cantwell secured multiple commitments from Moniz, including:

  • Personally Visiting Hanford: When asked by Cantwell, Dr. Moniz committed to visiting the Hanford site, if confirmed as the next Energy Secretary. “First of all, I hope that you’ll make it a priority to visit Hanford very soon in your tenure as Secretary of Energy,” Cantwell said during the hearing on April 9. Dr. Moniz responded: “I certainly will. … My plan would be to get hard briefings immediately, go to the site because I think you need to be there to understand the issues, come back, work with the Chairman, work with you, [Senator] Murray and make sure we get a plan together going forward and do that expeditiously.”
  • New Consideration of Separating Defense Nuclear Waste: On April 9, Cantwell asked Dr. Moniz if military nuclear waste should be addressed separately from commercial waste in any disposal plan, to which he said he would “push for that evaluation” and “relook” at the issue if confirmed. Dr. Moniz noted that the issue was discussed extensively when he served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, but that the final report failed to address defense-related waste.
  • Ensuring Adequate Funding for Hanford Cleanup: Dr. Moniz committed to working with Cantwell and other involved members of Congress to secure the resources needed to meet Hanford clean-up milestones, despite likely federal budget cuts, and to use those resources most effectively.
  • Working on Manhattan Project National Historical Park and Hanford Land Transfer: Dr. Moniz committed to work with Cantwell to move forward on the creation of a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park that includes the B Reactor and other key sites at Hanford, as well as the transfer of surplus land at the Hanford site to the community for economic development.
  • Working with PNNL on Energy Priorities: Dr. Moniz committed to increase engagement with the directors of national laboratories, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, regarding the strategic decisions being made at DOE. “I’m going to be looking to work in a somewhat different way with the laboratory directors, so that they are engaged more in strategic decisions about where we all go together,” Moniz said.
  • Maintaining Cost-Based Power at BPA: Under questioning by Cantwell, Moniz assured Cantwell he understood the importance of the Bonneville Power Administration and was committed to delivering low-cost power to its customers.