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Powering down

Obama's outgoing energy secretary isn’t worried about Rick Perry taking over

Obama’s outgoing energy secretary isn’t worried about Rick Perry taking over

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz isn’t worried about Rick Perry, Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Energy and the former governor of Texas.  

Even though Perry once said he’d like to get rid of the DOE — a desire he has since recanted — Moniz told VICE News during a recent sit-down interview in his office that he’s confident Perry will understand how important the department is once he takes office.

“We have 17 national laboratories, the vast majority of which host large scientific facilities that no individual university or company for that matter could sustain,” Moniz said.

The DOE is also responsible for America’s nuclear arsenal, and Moniz himself was central in negotiating the Iran deal. “I am convinced the more one learns about it, the more one understands the really critical impact it’s having in national security, in energy, in science.”

Still, when the Trump transition team asked for the names of DOE employees who’d worked on climate change issues, Moniz wasn’t pleased. The move was “inappropriate,” he said — and he refused to comply. “There was a concern — and I will not judge on motivation — but the structure of the questions led to a concern that career people who were doing their jobs might be disadvantaged for having done their job,” Moniz said. “We just thought it was important to immediately, and with clarity, say that we would not supply that kind of information. I think it was the right choice.”

Moniz, who’s also a respected nuclear physicist, hasn’t yet decided what he’ll do now that his time as energy secretary has come to an end. But he intends to take a break before going back to work on energy, climate change, and nuclear security — or at least that’s the idea. “The length of that break seems to be constantly shrinking,” he admitted. “And to be honest, I think my wife supports that direction.”

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