Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz On Coal, Climate, Innovation And His Successor | Here & Now

April 03, 2017Updated 04/03/2017 4:06 PM

Since he left office in January, former energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has seen significant change in Washington, and more specifically, to the policies he helped initiate.

Last week there was an executive order to dismantle former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, put into place to reduce carbon emissions. The Trump administration is also reviewing fuel standards and rules governing methane emissions from oil and gas wells.

Moniz joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss the Department of Energy and his successor, Rick Perry.

Interview Highlights

On a future without the Clean Power Plan

“The die is cast in terms of heading to a low-carbon future. Meeting the quantitative goals in 2020 or 2025, that will certainly be made more difficult. However, speaking of coal, let’s talk about that. I still expect no new coal plants to be built. The reality is, the decrease in coal use, the loss of coal jobs, has been primarily driven by low-cost natural gas. … An interesting fact is that the number of tons of coal produced per worker in Wyoming, let’s say, is nearly 10 times that of West Virginia, because in Wyoming, they have this highly mechanized surface mining. In fact, an irony of the president’s actions, is that he also eliminated the moratorium on coal leases on federal lands. If that is exercised, that will further tip the balance towards western coal, which has very, very few jobs associated with it, from eastern coal.

“Long-term, I honestly just don’t see that this is going to have an enormous impact. Because carbon dioxide emissions accumulate, if we emit more now, we’ll have to cut our budget of emissions even more in the future. So all this is doing is making it harder, and more expensive in the long-term. And the number of jobs lost in, let’s say coal, is measured in the couple of tens of thousands. The number of jobs created in the solar industry is about 280,000. The problem is, they’re not in the same place. And so the macro economy may actually be better off, but we have local stresses. And so I believe, frankly, that we’ve not done a good enough job, I think, in working bottom-up to look at what workers need, what communities need, to be helped through a period of transition.”

…(read more).

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