New US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who was just confirmed for the job earlier this week, is already taking a strong stance in defense of the booming natural gas industry, which has taken-off in recent years due to the controversial technique of fracking. In a video published today of his first "town hall" meeting with employees of the US Department of Energy, Moniz said: "the way I look at it at least, this natural gas boom is a boon. We all know that it is partially responsible for the decrease in CO2 emissions that we have experienced over the last years," adding, "what I would argue is that the way to look at, as gas is kind of the bridge to a very low-carbon future, is that it affords us a little bit more time to develop the technologies, to lower the costs of the alternative technologies."
"This natural gas boom is a boon."
The comments are in line with Moniz's previous statements as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he lead a research group funded in part by oil and gas companies, raising concerns among other scientists and some former colleagues that he was too close to the industry to truly be seen as "independent." But statistics released by the Energy Department last year, before Moniz was appointed in charge of the agency, back up his claim that cheaper and more plentiful natural gas, has resulted in a 20-year-low in CO2 emissions levels in the US.
Moniz was also quick to express his enthusiasm for solar and wind power during the town hall, saying, "I'm very bullish on solar, I think it's going to be a lot bigger than most people think, sooner than they think." But it's his comments on natural gas, a non-renewable resource that is extracted through controversial means, that are sure to generate the most interest.