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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to support President Obama's nomination of Dr. Ernest J. Moniz to be the next Secretary of Energy. Dr. Moniz has a solid and extensive background in the energy field and I believe will bring a balanced and practical perspective to our Nation's energy policy. Dr. Moniz has significant familiarity with the Department of Energy and its issues, having served as Under Secretary during the second Clinton administration. During the Obama administration, he has served in a number of advisory positions, including as a member of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

The Committee on Armed Services, which I chair, has jurisdiction over both the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA, and Department's Environmental Management Program. The NNSA is responsible for the management and security of the Nation's nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. The Environmental Management Program is responsible for cleanup of the environmental legacy from the Nation's nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research. Combined, these programs represent more than $16.7 billion of the Department of Energy's $26.3 billion budget, or more than 63 percent.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Moniz and to highlight several issues of importance to the State of Michigan and to the Nation. I look forward to working with Dr. Moniz on these issues.

Among these issues is the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, FRIB, which will be the world's most powerful rare isotope accelerator and provide cutting-edge research capabilities to study questions about the fundamental nature of matter. Applications of research discoveries from FRIB will assist development of new technologies in the fields of biomedicine, environmental science, and national defense. Michigan State University, MSU, was selected in 2008 after an extensive competitive process, and the FRIB project plans and schedules have been through rigorous Federal review. As home of the National Science Foundation's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, MSU has solid and well-known expertise in the field of rare isotopes and nuclear physics, with the largest nuclear physics faculty in the Nation and a nuclear physics graduate program that ranks No. 1 in the United States. MSU already produces 10 percent of the Nation's Ph.D.s in nuclear physics. In addition to expanding our knowledge of physics and the life science, successful completion of FRIB also will enhance the education of nuclear scientists and engineers needed to maintain U.S. competitiveness.

Another important issue to the State of Michigan and the Nation is collaboration between Federal agencies, the private sector, and academia on the development and transition of advanced ground vehicle and energy technologies. Collaboration in these areas is critical to leverage and maximize the value of the work being done in the Federal Government, in the private sector, and at our academic institutions around the country. The Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance, AVPTA, is a partnership between the Department of Energy and the Department of the Army which was created to provide a mechanism for this collaboration. A charter was signed between these two agencies in July 2011 establishing the mission of the AVPTA to ``leverage resources and research involving the commercial automotive and defense ground vehicle manufacturers to transition technologies into both the commercial and military marketplaces and increase precompetitive research and development.''

Dr. Moniz is familiar with and supportive of these programs, and I look forward to his Senate confirmation as Secretary of Energy. The Department of Energy has been effectively led by Dr. Steven Chu. Dr. Moniz will carry on that good work.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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