Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz sounded a note of optimism Thursday that Congress will ultimately address climate change, but he said the administration is rapidly moving ahead with actions it can take without legislation to tackle the growing threat to the global environment.
"We will now be focusing on the challenge of what we can and will ultimately do in legislation even as we carry out President Obama's very aggressive climate-change action plan," Moniz said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to mark the 40-year anniversary of the Arab Oil Embargo.
As one example, Moniz said his department is on track to issue new energy-efficiency standards for electric motors next month. He also stressed the need for the U.S. to build up its renewable-energy portfolio as part of the president's "all of the above" approach to energy production and make improvements to the electric grid to guard against the threat of cyberattacks and natural disasters.
"Climate is a real threat-multiplier, potentially," Moniz said. "It's a security issue as well as an environmental issue."
Moniz made a point of challenging members of Congress who have become known as "climate deniers."
"What I consider not debatable," he said, "is the need to respond prudently to the risks of climate change." He added: "I believe, frankly, we have turned the corner on that issue. I believe that we are — including in our Congress — really past the issue of whether we need to respond."