Energy Secretary: Obama Not at ‘War’ With Coal

U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Ernest Moniz welcomes participants to a plenary session at the the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Energy Ministers Conference in San Diego, Thursday, May 11, 2000. Energy Ministers from 21 countries are taking part in the conference through Friday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
National Journal
Alex Brown
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Alex Brown
Aug. 26, 2013, 11:11 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s cli­mate-change plan isn’t a “war” on the coal or oil in­dus­tries, En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz said in a Monday policy ad­dress, but an in­cre­ment­al ap­proach to re­duce car­bon emis­sions while im­prov­ing the ex­ist­ing en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture.

Mon­iz, speak­ing at Columbia Uni­versity’s Cen­ter on Glob­al En­ergy Policy, touched spe­cific­ally on Re­pub­lic­an ac­cus­a­tions of an Obama “war on coal.” Those charges, Mon­iz said, “demon­strate mis­un­der­stand­ing or mis­state­ment.” Coal will con­tin­ue to be an en­ergy source, he said, not­ing the pro­posed $6 bil­lion in­vest­ment in car­bon-cap­ture and se­quest­ra­tion tech­no­lo­gies to re­duce its en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact.

The wide-ran­ging ad­dress also de­fen­ded the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion from oth­er fre­quent GOP at­tacks. The loan-guar­an­tee pro­gram, Mon­iz said, is of­ten as­so­ci­ated with the Solyn­dra scan­dal, but in fact, its “track re­cord is quite re­mark­able.” The pro­gram, part of the En­ergy De­part­ment’s ef­fort to spur private in­vest­ment in clean-en­ergy pro­jects, has more suc­cess stor­ies than fail­ures, he said. One ex­ample of that is Tesla Mo­tors, which Mon­iz said has re­paid its loan nine years ahead of sched­ule.

An­oth­er area of con­ten­tion — wheth­er cli­mate change is ac­tu­ally oc­cur­ring — is “not de­bat­able,” Mon­iz said. “The evid­ence is over­whelm­ing; the sci­ence is clear.” While fo­cus­ing on long-term re­duc­tions in car­bon emis­sions, he said the U.S. should also look at im­prov­ing its en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture to deal with in­creas­ingly fre­quent in­cid­ents of ex­treme weath­er. Earli­er in the day, Mon­iz and New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie an­nounced a part­ner­ship to de­vel­op an im­proved mi­cro-grid to help the state meet its trans­it needs dur­ing weath­er emer­gen­cies.

Mon­iz also an­nounced that his de­part­ment is on pace to roll out sev­er­al new ef­fi­ciency stand­ards for ap­pli­ances, in­clud­ing walk-in re­fri­ger­a­tion units, “small ef­fi­ciency pro­grams [that] can in fact yield huge res­ults.”

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