Pro-fracking MIT don Ernest Moniz to be new US energy secretary

MIT professor Ernest Moniz was confirmed as the new secretary of the Department of Energy by a unanimous vote. In sharp contrast with Obama's pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Moniz received support from both Republicans and Democrats.

According to analysts, it was his work in nuclear energy and his pro-fracking stance that weighed in his favour with the conservative sections, unlike Gina McCarthy, Obama's pick for the EPA.

Environmental groups though were quick to remind him of the volatile energy issues currently facing the US and the need to move away from fossil fuels for good.

''To do what is right by the American public, we need Secretary Moniz to go all in on smart energy and climate solutions, like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and to protect our children's health and future, while creating jobs for American workers,'' said Deb Nardone, the Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas campaign director, in a statement.

Moniz, who served as an energy undersecretary in the Clinton administration, replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in Obama's first term. Though his acceptance into the office was largely conflict free, the new DOE secretary would face many challenges over the next few years with his decisions expected to shape America's energy future long beyond his tenure in office.

At MIT, Moniz earlier served as head of the Department of Physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. He has been a faculty with the MIT since 1973.

Moniz would help position the US as a world leader in terms of sustainable natural resources, president Obama said.

US senator Lisa Murkowski, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said both the Energy Department as also the nation would benefit from having Moniz lead the Energy Department.

"It is my hope that after his confirmation, Dr Moniz will guide our nation's energy policy as the respected scientist that he is: rigorously, robustly, free of preordained conclusions, and not afraid to speak up or speak his mind," she said in a statement.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, hailed Moniz over his "proven record" on new energy solutions.

Obama said he was pleased that the approval of the nomination came in a unanimous vote.

"He also shares my conviction that the United States must lead the world in developing more sustainable sources of energy that create new jobs and new industries, and in responding to the threat of global climate change," Obama said in a statement.