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U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said the time will come—perhaps 10 to 15 years from now—when “nuclear power is going to have to see a substantial resurgence.” This new knowledge needs to be brought to bear not only when designing new power plants but also when revisiting the requirements at older plants, as was happening at Fukushima before the tsunami. Moreover, most of the military waste already has the uranium and plutonium separated out from the spent fuel, since the aim was to produce nuclear weapons material. To deal with the immediate problem of waste building up in reactor pools, Congress should allow the Nuclear Waste Fund to be used for moving the spent fuel accumulating in pools into dry-cask storage units nearby. The nuclear policy and posture Washington sets in the coming weeks will determine America’s path for the next years—and decisions on Russia, Iran and the DPRK potentially for decades. Still, nuclear power faces a number of challenges in terms of safety, construction costs, waste management, and weapons proliferation. Moniz later joined the board of Atlanta-based Southern Co., whose power plants are among the most polluting of any major U.S. energy firm. Local concerns about nuclear waste facilities are not going to magically disappear; they need to be addressed with a more adaptive, collaborative, and transparent waste program. [20], Moniz has been criticized by environmentalists for his ties to the oil and gas industries. In Isaiah’s words we must “come and reason together.” You can hear Ernest Moniz’s speech and Q&A here. If nuclear energy is to enjoy a sustained renaissance, the challenge of managing nuclear waste for thousands of years must be met. [10] He co-chairs the MIT research council. Do not appoint Ernest Moniz. Germany announced an accelerated shutdown of its nuclear reactors, with broad public support, and Japan made a similar declaration, perhaps with less conviction. He served as Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1997–2001. The NRC also proposed regulations that would require nuclear power stations to have systems in place to allow them to remain safe if cut off from outside power and access for up to three days. But with no functioning commercial waste management system in place, the program cannot be extended to accommodate waste from commercial reactors. Nuclear power is not a silver bullet, but it is a partial solution that has proved workable on a large scale. (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — President Barack Obama announced today that he intends to nominate MIT’s Ernest J. Moniz to head the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Moniz is one of the founding members of The Cyprus Institute and has served at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as the Director of the Energy Initiative, and as the Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz discussed why the United States needs a strong nuclear power sector at a recent event that highlighted the most important “externalities” associated with nuclear energy as its national security and environmental benefits. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, Renewable Energy, Breakthrough, Solyndra, Nuclear Power, Energy Efficiency Increasingly, both sides have been playing tug of war over this information, but little has been said directly by the Obama administration. In the last decade, however, it began experiencing something of a renaissance. He served as U.S. Secretary of Energy from 2013 to 2017. What happened to Obama's call for "clean" energy in his 2013 State of the Union address? Further delay will only raise the stakes. A broad coalition of climate, progressive, and environmental justice groups are engaged in an all-out push to keep former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz out of the Biden Administration, because of Moniz’s extensive ties to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, retrograde views on climate policy, and outright hostility towards climate advocates. Many utilities have moved some of the spent fuel out of the pools and into dry storage facilities built on site, which the NRC has judged safe for a century or so. Moniz later joined the board of Atlanta-based Southern Co., whose power plants are among the most polluting of any major U.S. energy firm. The feasibility of SMRs needs to be demonstrated, and the government will almost certainly need to share some of the risk to get this done. Prior to this, he served as the Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and was Under Secretary of Energy from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration. Their decisions were made easier thanks to the fact that electricity demand has flagged during the world-wide economic slowdown and the fact that global regulation to limit climate change seems less imminent now than it did a decade ago. SMRs have attractive safety features, too. He served in the Clinton administration as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 1995 to 1997. From May 2013 to January 2017, Moniz served as United States Secretary of Energy in the Obama Administration. Published on October 23, 2017 by Kevin Randolph. “If we have a viable pathway at building nuclear power in smaller bites, the whole financing structure can change and make it much more affordable,” Moniz said. Westinghouse Electric Company LLC is an American nuclear power company formed in 1999 from the nuclear power division of the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation. In 2013, he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid as a recognition of his research on energy policies and technologies.[13]. Electricity generation emits more carbon dioxide in the United States than does transportation or industry, and nuclear power is the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the country. Another break from the past would be to manage civilian nuclear waste separately from military nuclear waste. But such an incremental step should not substitute for a comprehensive approach to waste management. The storage facilities would keep Washington’s options open as the debate over whether spent fuel is waste or a resource works itself out. After Fukushima, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent federal agency that licenses nuclear reactors, reviewed the industry’s regulatory requirements, operating procedures, emergency response plans, safety design requirements, and spent-fuel management. Meanwhile, nuclear power could be essential in such a system, but that is not a “universally held view,” Moniz noted. Even after the Fukushima disaster, China, which accounts for about 40 percent of current nuclear power plant construction, and India, Russia, and South Korea, which together account for another 40 percent, shows no signs of backing away from their pushes for nuclear power. Event focuses on importance of science, students, and scale in the clean energy transition, U.S. C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium convenes virtually, declaring environmental justice key for combating climate change, An investigation into household decision making. Numerous U.S. energy experts, including former Energy Secretaries Ernest Moniz and Rick Perry, have said that nuclear is key to power grid resiliency and meeting carbon reduction goals. The President and his first-term Administration have encumbered American energy policy with subsidies, mandates, and micromanagement. Ernest Moniz is Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems and Director of the Energy Initiative at MIT. These are not easy steps, and none of them will happen overnight. [6] He graduated from Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1962, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and was the president of the school's math club. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz was named co-chair and chief executive officer by the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in March 2017. [12] Moniz was one of the founding members of The Cyprus Institute in 2005, where he and other scholars undertook the coordination, research and planning of the project. NEW ORLEANS-Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, speaking in a city often blasted by extreme weather events, told the audience at a … Some observers are also concerned that the spread of civilian nuclear energy infrastructure could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons—a problem exemplified by Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Moniz discussed the state of nuclear power technology and the potential for escalating proliferation risks in light of current US-Russia tensions. Wind and solar power are becoming increasingly widespread, but their intermittent and variable supply make them poorly suited for large-scale use in the absence of an affordable way to store electricity. With the U.S. federal budget under tremendous pressure, it is hard to imagine taxpayers funding demonstrations of a new nuclear technology. Ernest J. Moniz served as the thirteenth United States Secretary of Energy from 2013 to January 2017. The dry storage facilities at Fukushima were not compromised by the earthquake and tsunami, a sharp contrast to the problems that arose with the spent-fuel pools when cooling could not be maintained. There is a lot of headroom for creative diplomacy. The downside, however, is that this process is complex and expensive, and it poses a proliferation risk since plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons. In the United States, the NRC’s review led to a recommendation that nuclear power plant operators reevaluate seismic and flood hazards every ten years and alter the design of the plants and their operating procedures as appropriate. Moniz left office with Obama in 2017, and these days, he’s back teaching at MIT and working on various clean energy and nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Now, the spent nuclear fuel has nowhere to go. ERNEST MONIZ is Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems and Director of the Energy Initiative at MIT. Fukushima awakened the American public and members of Congress to the problem of the accumulation of radioactive spent fuel in cooling pools at reactor sites. Outdated safety requirements should not be kept in place. Fast-tracking a defense waste program would allow the federal government to meet its obligations to states that host nuclear weapons facilities, from which it has agreed to remove radioactive waste. Low natural gas prices, mostly the result of newly accessible shale gas, have brightened the prospects that efficient gas-burning power plants could cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants relatively quickly by displacing old, inefficient coal plants, but the historical volatility of natural gas prices has made utility companies wary of putting all their eggs in that basket. Ernest Jeffrey Moniz, GCIH is an American nuclear physicist and government official. https://www.nti.org/about/leadership-and-staff/ernest-moniz It has been almost 40 years since the last new nuclear power plant was ordered. Ernest Moniz is Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems and Director of the Energy Initiative at MIT. But the strategy backfired, and the program is in a shambles. No SMR design has yet been licensed by the NRC. In an attempt to realize economies of scale, some utilities have turned to building even larger reactors, building ones that produce as much as 1,600 megawatts, instead of the typical 1,000 megawatts. In 2009, the Obama administration announced that it was canceling the Yucca Mountain project altogether, leaving no alternative in place for the disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Moniz left office with Obama in 2017, and these days, he’s back teaching at MIT and working on various clean energy and nuclear non-proliferation efforts. But each is needed to reduce uncertainty for the public, the energy companies, and investors. Yet nuclear power enjoys low operating costs, which can make it competitive on the basis of the electricity price needed to recover the capital investment over a plant’s lifetime. If the benefits of nuclear power are to be realized in the United States, each of these hurdles must be overcome. [21][22] During his career, Moniz has served on the advisory boards for BP, one of the largest oil and gas companies, and General Electric. Nuclear power’s track record of providing clean and reliable electricity compares favorably with other energy sources. Ernest J. Moniz Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NTI. If you haven’t heard of Ernest “Ernie” Moniz, there’s still a good chance you’ve seen a picture of him. To begin with, there is simply much less military waste, and the volume will hardly grow in the future. He … The success or failure of these construction projects in avoiding delays and cost overruns will help determine the future of nuclear power in the United States. Hydropower, meanwhile, has very limited prospects for expansion in the United States because of environmental concerns and the small number of potential sites. Ernest MONIZ of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA (MIT) | Read 98 publications | Contact Ernest MONIZ There will be fewer economically viable options for meeting the United States’ energy and environmental needs, and the country will be less competitive in the global technology market. This approach has several advantages. This helps not only the plant owner but also customers, who are increasingly being asked to pay higher rates today to fund tomorrow’s plants. [15] The comprehensive agreement between Iran and the so-called "P5+1" (which includes the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany and a representative from the European Union) was finalized on July 14, 2015, to much fanfare and criticism. ", "Ernest Moniz, Ministro de Energía de EE.UU., nuevo doctor honoris causa por Comillas", "Ernest Moniz confirmed as Energy secretary", "An Iran Nuclear Deal Built on Coffee, All-Nighters and Compromise", "Iran nuclear deal shifts tectonic plates in the Middle East", "Ernest J. Moniz Named New CEO of NTI | NTI News", "Saudi Arabia reveals big tech names as part of NEOM global advisory board", "Who Are Contenders for Biden's Cabinet? Moniz, a physicist and director of the MIT Energy Initiative, heavily financed by energy industry giants including BP and Chevron, has long advocated nuclear power. In the United States, there is still a great deal of uncertainty over the cost of new nuclear power plants. “Ernest Moniz's ‘all of the above’ energy policies might be good for his friends in the coal, oil, and gas industries, but they're a death sentence for us and our planet,” the website reads. Home » A Statement from U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz Regarding Fukushima Editors Note: This statement has been updated as of 12:55 PM on November 1, 2013 “On Friday, I made my first visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. These sites should be paid for by the Nuclear Waste Fund, a change that would require congressional approval. Developing enrichment or separation facilities is expensive and unlikely to make economic sense for countries with small nuclear power programs. Ernest Jeffrey Moniz, GCIH[1] (/moʊniːz/;[2] born December 22, 1944) is an American nuclear physicist and government official. Nuclear physicist Ernest J. Moniz has returned to MIT following more than three and a half years of service as the 13th U.S. Secretary of Energy. Nevertheless, the incident at Fukushima clearly calls for additional regulatory requirements, and the NRC’s recommendations should be put in place as soon as is feasible. The event caused widespread public doubts about the safety of nuclear power to resurface. Their design often incorporates natural cooling features that can continue to function in the absence of external power, and the underground placement of the reactors and the spent-fuel storage pools is more secure. With the nomination of Ernest Moniz to be the next U.S. secretary of energy, President Barack Obama has selected a man who is not only a booster of nuclear power but a big proponent of fracking, too. This pushes up the projects’ cost and amplifies the consequences of mistakes during construction. Only after SMRs are licensed and built will their true cost be clear. [4], Moniz was born in 1944 in Fall River, Massachusetts, the son of Georgina (Pavão) Moniz and Ernest Perry Moniz, both of whom were Portuguese immigrants from São Miguel Island, Azores. In 1972, he received his Masters of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in theoretical physics from Stanford University. Safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency are intended to make sure that civilian programs do not spill over into military ones, but the agency has only a limited ability to address clandestine programs. The waste is now mostly held at power plants in dry cask storage or in spent fuel pools, said Moniz, a nuclear physicist who has run the department since 2013. He began serving in June 2017. Even though the intrinsic price per megawatt for SMRs may be higher than that for a large-scale reactor, the final cost per megawatt might be lower thanks to more favorable financing terms and shorter construction times—a proposition that will have to be tested. The first new nuclear plants of next-generation design are likely to be built in Georgia by the Southern Company, pending the NRC’s approval. With few exceptions, the needed upgrades are likely to be modest, but such a step would help ensure that the designs of plants reflect up-to-date information. Ernest J. Moniz is co-chair and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and … Obama did appoint Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, to the post of Energy Secretary in 2013, but both Moniz and the administration have been relatively quiet about nuclear since that time – until this week. It should step up its support for new technology, such as SMRs and advanced computer-modeling tools. In the 40 years since the first Fukushima reactor was commissioned, seismology and the science of flood hazards have made tremendous progress, drawing on advances in sensors, modeling, and other new capabilities. The 14-meter-high wave was more than twice the height that Fukushima was designed to withstand, and it left the flooded plant cut off from external logistical support and from its power supply, which is needed to cool the reactor and pools of spent fuel. Again, and we all know nuclear power is 60 percent of our – roughly speaking – zero-carbon generation. These reactors, called small modular reactors (SMRs), produce anywhere from ten to 300 megawatts, rather than the 1,000 megawatts produced by a typical reactor. This ad hoc approach might have worked when the United States was the dominant supplier of nuclear technology and fuel, but it no longer is, and other major suppliers, such as France and Russia, appear uninterested in imposing such restrictions on commercial transactions. This is a time- consuming process for any new nuclear technology, and it will be especially so for those SMR designs that represent significant departures from the NRC’s experience. The United States already runs a similar program on a smaller scale, having provided fuel, often highly enriched uranium, to about 30 countries for small research reactors. The tsunami that hit Japan in March marked the first time that an external event led to a major release of radioactivity from a nuclear power plant. Public concern about radioactive waste is also hindering nuclear power, and no country yet has a functioning system for disposing of it. Ernest J. Moniz served as the thirteenth United States Secretary of Energy from 2013 to January 2017. And when it comes to waste management, the government needs to overhaul the current system and get serious about long-term storage. The United States’ dysfunctional nuclear waste management system has an unfortunate international side effect: it limits the options for preventing other countries from using nuclear power infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons. [14] He succeeded Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. [3] Before his appointment as Secretary of Energy, Moniz served in a variety of advisory capacities, including at BP,[4] General Electric,[5] and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On May 16, 2013, his appointment was confirmed on a 97–0 vote by the Senate. When it comes to safety, the design requirements for nuclear reactors must be reexamined in light of up-to-date analyses of plausible accidents. [17] In 2018, Moniz was hired by the government of Saudi Arabia to serve as member of the global advisory board of the Neom project, a $500 billion planned megacity in the Tabuk Region. Ernest Moniz. Ernest J. Moniz served as the thirteenth United States Secretary of Energy from 2013 to January 2017. Nuclear power generation is also relatively cheap, costing less than two cents per kilowatt-hour for operations, maintenance, and fuel. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation, is currently finishing construction of the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor, in eastern Tennessee, which was started long ago, and it has plans to complete another, Bellefonte Unit 1, in Hollywood, Alabama. In the United States, an already slow approach to new nuclear plants slowed even further in the face of an unanticipated abundance of natural gas. Former Obama administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz now heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a group… What is not disputed is that most nuclear waste needs to be isolated deep underground. Instead of being stored near reactors, spent fuel should eventually be kept in dry casks at a small number of consolidated sites set up by the government where the fuel could stay for a century. In the United States, Congress adopted a prescriptive approach, legislating both a single site, at Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, and a specific schedule for burying spent fuel underground. Such natural disasters, although infrequent, should have been planned for in the reactor’s design: the Pacific Ring of Fire has seen a dozen earth- quakes in the 8.5 to 9.5 range in the last hundred years, and Japan has the most recorded tsunamis in the world, with waves sometimes reaching 30 meters high. Besides, in the long run, burning natural gas would still release too much carbon dioxide. Secretary Moniz played a crucial role in negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, directly negotiating technical details with the Iranian atomic energy minister Ali Akbar Salehi, an MIT graduate, and reassuring President Obama that concessions important to the Iranians would not pose a major threat. The NRC’s initial reaction to the safety lessons of Fukushima must be translated into action; the public needs to be convinced that nuclear power is safe. The country supplying the fuel would treat the returned spent fuel as it does its own, disposing of it directly or reprocessing it. Not only are their capital costs inherently high; their longer construction times mean that utility companies accumulate substantial financing charges before they can sell any electricity. Nuclear energy is generated by splitting uranium, leaving behind dangerous radioactive products, such as cesium and strontium that must be isolated for centuries. But if the United States takes a hiatus from creating new clean-energy options—be it SMRs, renewable energy, advanced batteries, or carbon capture and sequestration—Americans will look back in ten years with regret. In most cases, the amount of additional waste would be small in comparison to what that country is already handling. In fact, the U.S. government is paying billions of dollars in damages to utility companies for failing to meet its obligations to remove spent fuel from reactor sites. 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