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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COWAN. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz--a native son of Massachusetts--to be Secretary of Energy. In voting yes on his nomination, the Senate will confirm someone who is extremely well qualified for the role of Secretary of Energy and someone who is proof positive that the American dream is alive and well.

Dr. Moniz is a son to first-generation immigrants to America, to Fall River, MA, a historic city on the south coast of Massachusetts rich with a history in the textile and garment mills and now with a bright future in the innovation economy.

It was in Fall River that Dr. Moniz first developed his love of science, both at home and in the Massachusetts public schools. With the help of scholarships from his father's labor union, Dr. Moniz was able to attend and receive his bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude in physics, from Boston College. From there, Dr. Moniz went on to do even greater work.

In Massachusetts, we are grateful for the decades of service he has given to one of the finest institutions not just in the Commonwealth but in the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--otherwise known as MIT--where he has been a faculty member since 1973. Dr. Moniz has led many groundbreaking initiatives at MIT, including most recently serving as the funding director of the MIT Energy Initiative and leading the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. Through the MIT Energy Initiative, he has been at the forefront of multidisciplinary technology and policy studies on the future of nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas, and solar energy. The initiative has spun out numerous startup companies from the campus lab into the emerging and important clean energy economy.

In addition to his many years of service to the Commonwealth, Dr. Moniz also knows his way around this town, which I am sure will serve him well in his new position. He served previously as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy and before that as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy for President Clinton.

One of the biggest challenges he will undoubtedly face as Secretary is how to continue critical U.S. investments in emerging energy technologies, including fusion, in the face of a difficult budget climate. While I recognize that, as Secretary, Dr. Moniz will need to recuse himself from this particular issue, I strongly support continued DOE funding of the domestic fusion energy research program at MIT, the C-Mod Program, which has for years led in fusion science and is an incubator for the next generation of fusion scientists. Unless additional action is taken by DOE, the C-Mod research facility at MIT will be abruptly terminated, 130 fusion scientists, engineers, graduate students, and support personnel at MIT would also be terminated, and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in this program over the past generation will be lost.

Our Nation's domestic fusion program simply cannot withstand the proposed reductions without a severe negative impact to our fusion research and our scientific contributions to the international fusion research community. This shortsighted approach could eliminate the ability of the United States to take a lead role in the development of the next generation of energy research.

The Department of Energy has significant responsibilities that impact America's economic energy, environmental, and security future. It is my strong belief that Dr. Moniz has the ability, knowledge, experience, and vision to be an excellent Secretary of Energy for the people of the United States. I look forward to casting my vote to confirm this brilliant scientist, dedicated public servant, and, yes, native son of Massachusetts.

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


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