Ernest Moniz

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Ernest Moniz
13th United States Secretary of Energy
In office
May 21, 2013 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyDaniel Poneman
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
Preceded bySteven Chu
Succeeded byRick Perry
Under Secretary of Energy for Energy and Environment
In office
October 29, 1997 – January 20, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded bySteven Chu
Succeeded byRobert G. Card
Personal details
Ernest Jeffrey Moniz

(1944-12-22) December 22, 1944 (age 78)
Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseNaomi Moniz
EducationBoston College (BS)
Stanford University (MS, PhD)

Ernest Jeffrey Moniz, GCIH[1] (/mnz/;[2] born December 22, 1944) is an American nuclear physicist and former government official. From May 2013 to January 2017, he served as the 13th United States secretary of energy in the Obama administration. Prior to this, Moniz served as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and undersecretary of energy from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton administration. He is currently the co-chair and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI),[3] as well as president and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), a nonprofit organization working on climate and energy technology issues, which he co-founded in 2017.[4]

Moniz, who is one of the founding members of The Cyprus Institute, has served at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the Cecil and Ida Green professor of physics and engineering systems, director of the Energy Initiative and director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.[5] Before his appointment as secretary of energy, he served in a variety of advisory capacities, including at BP,[6] General Electric[7] and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Moniz was born in 1944 in Fall River, Massachusetts, the son of Georgina (Pavão) Moniz and Ernest Perry Moniz, both of whom were Portuguese immigrants from São Miguel Island, Azores.[8] He graduated from Durfee High School in Fall River in 1962, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and was the president of the school's math club.[9] After graduating from high school, Moniz attended Boston College, where he received his Bachelor of Science summa cum laude in physics. In 1972, he received his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical physics from Stanford University.[10][11]


After graduating from Stanford, Moniz joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1973, serving as head of the department of physics from 1991 to 1995 and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center.[12] He co-chairs the MIT research council. He served in the Clinton administration as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 1995 to 1997.[13]

Moniz worked in the United States Department of Energy, serving as undersecretary of energy from 1997 to 2001.[14] Moniz was one of the founding members of The Cyprus Institute in 2005, where he and other scholars undertook the coordination, research and planning of the project. In 2013, he received the honorary degree Doctor Honoris Causa from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid in recognition of his research on energy policies and technologies.[15]

U.S. Secretary of Energy (2013–2017)[edit]

Moniz on visit to Israel with Daniel Zajfman (center), president of the Weizmann Institute

On May 16, 2013, his appointment was confirmed on a 97–0 vote by the Senate.[16] He succeeded Steven Chu as secretary of energy. Moniz was sworn in as energy secretary on May 21, 2013 by deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman.

Moniz with Japanese minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura in 2013

Moniz played a crucial role in negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, directly negotiating technical details with the Iranian atomic energy minister Ali Akbar Salehi, an MIT graduate, and reassuring President Obama that concessions important to the Iranians would not pose a major threat.[17] The comprehensive agreement between Iran and the so-called "P5+1" (which includes the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany and a representative from the European Union) was finalized on July 14, 2015, to much fanfare and criticism.[18]

Some environmental advocacy groups opposed Moniz' nomination due to his support for nuclear power and fracking as a "bridge fuel" to ease the transition away from coal energy. Others opposed him because he had previously served on the board of a number of energy companies like BP and ICF, although Obama noted that he had nominated Moniz in part specifically because of his track record of working with industry.[7]

Career after office[edit]

In June 2017, Moniz became co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to prevent catastrophic attacks with weapons of mass destruction and disruption—nuclear, biological, radiological and cyber.[19] He also founded a nonprofit organization called the Energy Futures Initiative, where he has promoted the concept of a "Green Real Deal" as a "practical, science-based" solution to climate change.[4][20] The concept attracted praise in the media from The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and criticism from Greenpeace USA.[21][22]

In 2018, Moniz was hired by the government of Saudi Arabia to serve as member of the global advisory board of the Neom project, a $500 billion planned megacity in the Tabuk Region.[23]

In November 2020, Moniz was named a candidate for energy secretary in the Biden Administration.[24] However, former governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm was chosen instead.[25]



  1. ^ "Presidente recebeu Secretário de Energia norte-americano Ernest Moniz". President of Portugal. Lisbon. July 10, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  2. ^ Krapfl, Anne (April 7, 2016). "Energy Secretary Moniz will give graduation address". Inside Iowa State. Iowa State University. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  3. ^ "Leadership and Staff". NTI. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Ernest Moniz Introduces the Energy Futures Initiative". Energy Futures Initiative. June 21, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  5. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Faculty & Teaching Staff". MIT Engineering Systems Division. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Wald, Matthew L. (March 29, 2013). "Nominee for Energy Secretary Lists Assets and Posts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Elliott, Justin (March 20, 2013). "Drilling Deeper: The Wealth of Business Connections for Obama's Energy Pick". ProPublica. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  8. ^ "Obama to name Fall River Native to head Energy Department". 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  9. ^ Carol Lee Costa-Crowell; Lurdes da Silva (August 6, 1997). "Durfee grad nominated to energy post". Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  10. ^ "Department of Energy "About Us"". 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "Events GCEP Research Symposium 2005 Keynote Speakers Prof. Freeman Dyson Prof. Ernest Moniz Prof. David Victor". 2005. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  12. ^ "Ernest Moniz Professor of Physics and Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor Co-Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment". Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  13. ^ David J. Unger (February 11, 2013). "Will Ernest Moniz be the next Energy secretary?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  14. ^ Niraj Chokshi (February 21, 2013). "Who Is Ernest Moniz, Obama's Likely Pick for Energy Secretary?". Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  15. ^ "Ernest Moniz, Ministro de Energía de EE.UU., nuevo doctor honoris causa por Comillas". 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  16. ^ Weiner, Rachel (May 16, 2013). "Ernest Moniz confirmed as Energy secretary". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  17. ^ Sanger, David E.; Gordon, Michael R. (April 4, 2015). "An Iran Nuclear Deal Built on Coffee, All-Nighters and Compromise". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Iran nuclear deal shifts tectonic plates in the Middle East". Aljazeera America.
  19. ^ "Ernest J. Moniz Named New CEO of NTI | NTI News". Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "The Green Real Deal". Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  21. ^ "Trump Mocks Climate Change. That's a Key to Defeating Him". The New York Times. April 9, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  22. ^ "Greenpeace Urges Joe Biden to Reject Ernest Moniz and Choose Climate Champions for Cabinet". Greenpeace. November 16, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  23. ^ Geronimo, Adelle (October 11, 2018). "Saudi Arabia reveals big tech names as part of NEOM global advisory board". Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  24. ^ "Who Are Contenders for Biden's Cabinet?". The New York Times. November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  25. ^ Pager, Tyler; Colman, Zack (December 16, 2020). "Biden to tap former Michigan Gov. Granholm to lead Energy Department". POLITICO. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  26. ^ "The American Philosophical Society Welcomes New Members for 2020". American Philosophical Society.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Energy
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Cabinet Member Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Cabinet Member
Succeeded byas Former US Cabinet Member