Energy Secretary: ‘All of the Above’ Is Climate-Friendly

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: Secretary of Energy nominee Ernest Moniz arrives for testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee April 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. Moniz, a nuclear physicist, testified before a full committee hearing on his pending nomination. 
National Journal
Ben Geman
Feb. 26, 2014, 6:59 a.m.

En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz is par­ry­ing with en­vir­on­ment­al­ists who re­cently called the White House’s “all of the above” en­ergy strategy a loser for the cli­mate.

His com­ments Wed­nes­day are part of ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to de­fend the dual White House fo­cus on ex­pan­ded oil and gas pro­duc­tion along­side the green-en­ergy sources that act­iv­ists em­brace.

But Mon­iz, speak­ing at an En­ergy De­part­ment con­fer­ence just out­side Wash­ing­ton, told the audi­ence he wanted to be “very clear” about what the phrase is about.

“It starts with a com­mit­ment to mov­ing to a low-car­bon fu­ture. It is with­in that com­mit­ment that we are look­ing to de­vel­op the tech­no­lo­gies, for ex­ample, that al­low all of our fuel sources to be com­pet­it­ive in the dif­fer­ent mar­ket­places that we will see in the dif­fer­ent parts of our coun­try and in dif­fer­ent parts of the world,” he said.

“There is not go­ing to be one low-car­bon solu­tion. There are go­ing to be mul­tiple low-car­bon solu­tions. We need all the ar­rows in the quiver, and that is why we will con­tin­ue to in­vest across the board in our dif­fer­ent fuels and, of course, ef­fi­ciency and oth­er tech­no­lo­gies,” Mon­iz ad­ded.

He spoke at a con­fer­ence hos­ted by the de­part­ment’s Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency-En­ergy pro­gram, which funds re­search in­to break­through tech­no­lo­gies.

Mon­iz said his re­cent travels high­light what’s meant by “all of the above,” and touted ef­forts to use fossil fuels more cleanly. He noted his vis­it to a Mis­sis­sippi coal-fired power plant un­der con­struc­tion that will cap­ture car­bon emis­sions to be used in en­hanced oil re­cov­ery, ded­ic­at­ing a huge sol­ar-power pro­ject that re­cently came on­line in Cali­for­nia, vis­it­ing shale drilling areas in Texas but also ex­plor­ing ef­fi­ciency ef­forts in San Ant­o­nio, and more.

Mon­iz was also in Geor­gia this month tout­ing the fed­er­al-loan guar­an­tees for a pair of nuc­le­ar re­act­ors that South­ern Com­pany is build­ing.

Else­where in his re­marks, Mon­iz gave a brief pre­view of the pro­posed fisc­al year 2015 En­ergy De­part­ment budget that the White House will un­veil next week.

“Bluntly, the ‘15 budget year is go­ing to be more dif­fi­cult than the ‘14 budget year,” he said, not­ing that the spend­ing caps in the re­cent Cap­it­ol Hill budget deal that Demo­crat­ic Sen. Parry Mur­ray and GOP Rep. Paul Ry­an struck.

But des­pite that caveat, Mon­iz said the green-en­ergy por­tion of the budget will be a pri­or­ity.

“Without … say­ing too much, there is no reas­on to be­lieve that the pri­or­ity for this clean-en­ergy agenda will be any dif­fer­ent, and per­haps it will turn out a little bit bet­ter than some oth­er parts of the budget next week,” he said.

Mon­iz’s wide-ran­ging speech fo­cused on sev­er­al of his pri­or­it­ies for the de­part­ment, in­clud­ing the de­part­ment’s loan-guar­an­tee pro­gram, which has drawn strong GOP cri­ti­cism in re­cent years over the fail­ure of the sol­ar-pan­el com­pany Solyn­dra and some oth­er flops.

He noted that in the main, the $30 bil­lion loan port­fo­lio — which in­cludes a num­ber of green power-gen­er­a­tion pro­jects and loans to auto­makers for green-car de­vel­op­ment — is per­form­ing well.

“Any ra­tion­al view of that port­fo­lio is that it has been a ma­jor suc­cess in do­ing ex­actly what it … is de­signed to do in terms of first-movers of tech­no­lo­gies at com­mer­cial scale,” Mon­iz said.

The de­part­ment has an ad­di­tion­al $40 bil­lion-plus in loan-guar­an­tee au­thor­ity re­main­ing. “We are look­ing to de­ploy that … across the board. Ad­vanced vehicles, nuc­le­ar, fossil, re­new­ables,” Mon­iz said.

Ini­tial ap­plic­a­tions for up to $8 bil­lion worth of loan guar­an­tees for fossil-en­ergy pro­jects that curb or trap car­bon emis­sions are due Fri­day.

Mon­iz told re­port­ers that a so­li­cit­a­tion for ap­plic­a­tions for re­new­able en­ergy pro­jects will be re­leased “re­l­at­ively soon,” but he did not provide a spe­cif­ic time frame. “I am not talk­ing the end of the year,” he said.

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