Americans Against Fracking Letter to Senate Energy Committee Denouncing Ernest Moniz

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A letter signed by 100 individuals (with a few groups represented) under the umbrella of Americans Against Fracking, sent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The letter requests the Senators to not confirm MIT professor Dr. Ernet Moniz, claiming (laughably) he has close ties to the oil and gas industry.

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Americans Against Fracking Letter to Senate Energy Committee Denouncing Ernest Moniz

  1. 1. April 9, 2013The Committee on Energy and Natural ResourcesU.S. SenateRe: Secretary of Energy Nominee Dr. Ernest MonizDear Committee Members,We are writing to express our deep concern over President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz tothe position of Secretary of Energy.Dr. Moniz’s close ties to the oil and gas industry, and in particular his failure to disclose them whileleading an industry-funded and ultimately industry-friendly report published in 2011 by theMassachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative (MITEI) entitled “The Future of Natural Gas,”lead us to question his nomination.According to a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative1, the MITEI, which Dr. Moniz directs,has in the last seven years, received pledges of over $145 million from oil and gas companies alone.Among them, BP has pledged the most, dedicating $50 million. Pledging $25 million each are Eni, SaudiAramco and Shell. The PAI report adds that other significant contributors to the MITEI include Chevron,the oil and gas services company Schlumberger and Hess Corporation.As an individual, Dr. Moniz has performed various consulting and advisory roles within the oil and gasindustry, in some cases for financial gain.2 He  received  a  stipend  while  on BP’s Technology AdvisoryCouncil between 2005 and 2011. He is a trustee of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and ResearchCenter (KAPSARC) in Saudi Arabia. He is paid for strategic advice by NGP Energy Technology Partnersand Riverstone Equity Holdings, LP., two investment firms with large stakes in the oil and gas industry.He has more than $100,000 in stock in and serves on the board of ICF International, which has a growingenergy business that counts the America’s Natural Gas Alliance among its clients. Moniz has also servedon the boards of the Gas Technology Institute and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy forAmerica, which both promote the natural gas industry.It is therefore not surprising that, as director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, Dr. Moniz has been an outspokenproponent of unconventional natural gas development, particularly shale gas extracted by thecontroversial technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.In July 2011, not long after the first of now many peer-reviewed scientific articles that call into questionthe purported climate benefits of burning shale gas instead of coal for electricity, given so-called fugitivemethane emissions, Dr. Moniz testified to this committee. He emphasized “In the U.S., a combination ofdemand reduction and displacement of coal-fired power by gas-fired generation is the lowest cost way toreduce CO2 emissions by up to 50%. For more stringent CO2 emissions reductions, further de-carbonization of the energy sector will be required; but natural gas provides a cost-effective bridge tosuch a low-carbon future.”                                                                                                                1  Public  Accountability  Initiative.  “Public  Partner  or  Industry  Puppet:  How  MIT’s  influential  study  of  fracking  was  authored,  funded,  and  released  by  oil  and  gas  industry  insiders.”  March  2013.  2  Bender,  Bryan.  “Obama’s  Energy  pick  discloses  industry  ties.“  Boston  Globe.  March  30,  2013;  Public  Accountability  Initiative.  “Public  Partner  or  Industry  Puppet:  How  MIT’s  influential  study  of  fracking  was  authored,  funded,  and  released  by  oil  and  gas  industry  insiders.”  March  2013.  
  2. 2. Adding the imprimatur of MIT to the notion of natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” this bottom-line assessmentdid the oil and gas industry a great service. But the statement is only accurate in that Dr. Moniz added thequalifier “cost-effective” and skirted the key issue raised by the peer-reviewed research on the climateimpact of using shale gas to generate electricity: the fact that relying on shale gas entails significantemissions not just of CO2 but also of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas.Now, according to the IEA, a scenario of increased global dependence on natural gas would, by 2035,increase the global average temperature by about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, even with strong efforts to curbemissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Dr. Moniz only mentions CO2 emissions reductions, notCO2 equivalent emissions reductions which would also account for methane.With this in mind, we urge you to ask Dr. Moniz during his confirmation hearing what precisely he meansby a “cost-effective bridge” and how short he believes this bridge needs to be if we are to live up to ourobligation to future generations and avoid such a catastrophic level of global warming.Also in his testimony before this committee in July 2011, Dr. Moniz referred more generally to theenvironmental and public health issues of air and water pollution from fracking as “challenging butmanageable.” He added, “In all instances the risks can be mitigated to acceptable levels throughappropriate regulation and oversight.”Yet again, this bottom-line assessment does the shale gas industry a great service: it gives the imprimaturof MIT to the notion that fracking can be done safely. This is troubling given the fact that the U.S.Government Accountability Office and the Director of the National Center for Environmental Health andAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the federal Centers for Disease Control andPrevention have since deemed the public health impacts of fracking to be understudied.In his testimony, Dr. Moniz states his opinion that the risks are “challenging but manageable” withoutmaking clear what he means by “acceptable levels” of risk, and without coming to terms with the unlikelyprospect of actually achieving “appropriate regulation and oversight,” especially in the face of certainopposition from the well-heeled oil and gas industry. We urge you to ask him to make these caveats clearduring Dr. Moniz’s confirmation hearing.In closing, recent revelations about Dr. Moniz’s extensive ties to the oil and gas industry, including largefinancial stakes, cast new light on statements he has made promoting unconventional natural gasdevelopment as “cost-effective bridge.” This casts serious doubt about Dr. Moniz ability to be anindependent leader of the Department of Energy at time when we must rapidly remake our energy systemand end our dependence on all fossil fuels.For this reason, we urge you to vote against his nomination.Sincerely,Advisory Board MembersJosh FoxMark RuffaloNatalie MerchantSandra Steingraber
  3. 3. Organizations: Wes Gillingham Program Director350.orgPhil Aroneanu Center for Sustainable Rural CommunitiesUS Campaign Director Robert Nied Member- Board of Directors350 NJMatt Smith Citizens Against Drilling on Public LandCoordinator Mariah Urueta Co-FounderAdvocates for MorrisMurray Bell Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community Paul FerrazziAllamakee County Protectors, Inc. Executive DirectorMary AbbasSecretary Citizens for a Healthy Community Jim RameyAntifracking Task Force, WNY Peace Center DirectorFrank GageChair Citizens for Huerfano County Keli KringelAthens County Fracking Action Network PresidentHeather Cantino Citizens for Huerfano CountyBaldwin Hills Oil Watch Keli KringelStephen Murray PresidentDirector City of Binghamton Residents AgainstBeacon Climate Action HydrofrackingAmanda Means Isaac Silberman-GornOrganizer DirectorBerks Gas Truth ClimateMamaKaren Feridun Harriet ShugarmanFounder Executive DirectorBoulder County Citizens for Community Rights Coastal Environmental Rights FoundationN Hall Sara KentTreasurer Programs DirectorBreast Cancer Action Colden Well BeingKaruna Jaggar Jeanette GecklerExecutive Director Concerned Burlington NeighborsCapital District Against Fracking Suzy WinklerSiobhan Burke Co-FounderCo-founder Concerned Citizens of DanbyCatskill Mountainkeeper Anne Klingensmith
  4. 4. Co-chair DirectorCONCERNED CITIZENS OF LAKE TWP Environmental ActionChristine Borello Drew HudsonPresident Executive DirectorConcerned Citizens Ohio Erie RisingGwen Fischer Jennifer PalazzoloProfessor PresidentConcerned Worcester Citizens Essex Passaic (NJ) GreensClark Rhoades Ted Glick coordinatorCoshocton Citizens for Truth About FrackingNick Teti Faith Communities TogetherOrganizer Kristina Kistler FaCT CoordinatorCWA Local 1081David Weiner Family Farm DefendersPresident John Peck Executive DirectorDamascus Citizens for SustainabilityBarbara Arrindell Food & Water WatchDirector Wenonah Hauter Executive DirectorDefenders of the Earth Outreach MissionRev. Monica Beasley-Martin Frack ActionFounder Julia Walsh Campaign Director, FounderDelaware Riverkeeper NetworkMaya van Rossum Frack Files WeldDelaware Riverkeeper Robert Winkler FounderDemocracy For AmericaJim Dean Frack Free CatskillsChairman Susan Rosenberg FounderDont Frack BroomfieldLaura Fronckiewicz Frack Free ColoradoCo-Founder Neshama Abraham FounderDont Frack MichiganJoanne Cromley Frack Free GeneseeCo-Chair Cynthia Carestio Co-founderElmirans & Friends Against FrackingColleen Boland Frack Free Loveland Sharon J. CarlisleEnvironment and Human Rights Advisory Frack Free OhioDr Tom Kerns Bill Baker
  5. 5. Organizer Marilyn Hunt DirectorFracking Truth Alliance of Lawrence andMercer Counties Local Clean Energy AllianceCarrie Hahn Al WeinrubCoordinator CoordinatorFriends of Butternuts M.U.S.T. (Mothers United for SustainableTeresa Winchester Technologies)Public Relations Liaison Tanyette Colon FounderFriends of the Au Gres-RifleJacque Rose Madison Branch of WILPFCo-Founder Mary SandersonGrassroots Environmental Education Make CC SafePatricia Wood Dr Suzanne De BenedittisExecutive Director PresidentGreen Environmental Coalition Marbletown Citizens Defense Against FrackingVictoria Hennessy Jill ObrigPresident LeaderGroton Resource Awareness Coalition Marcellus ProtestDavid Kalb Briget ShieldsMedia Rep Outreach Coordinator Gloria Forouzan, MemberGuernsey County Citizens Support on DrillingIssues Michigan Citizens for Water ConservationGreg Pace Peggy Case PresidentHunger Action Los AngelesFrank Tamborello Michigan Student Sustainability CoalitionExecutive Director Liz Starke CoordinatorIowa Citizens for Community ImprovementAdam Mason Middlefield NeighborsState Policy Organizing Director Kelly Branigan Founding MemberKent County Water ConservationBrian Keeley Montgomery County Young DemocratsSpokesperson Dave Kunes PresidentLakewood FractivistsEleanor J. Jefferson Mountain Watershed Association, Inc. Beverly BravermanLehigh Valley Gas Truth Executive DirectorJulie Ann EdgarOrganizer MRAD (Maryland Residents Against Drilling)Liberty and Justice WV Kristina Fedorov
  6. 6. Peter HudiburgNew Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners FounderAmanda J NesheiwatDirector Progress Ohio Bret ThompsonNJ State Industrial Union Council Policy DirectorCarol GayPresident Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Russell GreeneNortheast Organic Farming Association of NewYork, Inc. Progressive Democrats of the Santa MonicaKate Mendenhall MountainsExecutive Director Dorothy Reik PresidentNorth Jersey Pipeline WalkersDiane Wexler Protect All Childrens EnvironmentCo-Founder Elizabeth M.T. ONan DirectorNuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)Dave Kraft R-CAUSE (Rochesterians Concerned AboutDirector Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction) Anna SearsOlive Defense Against Fracking Co-FounderGeorge KouryEducation Coordinator Responsible Drilling Alliance Robert CrossOregon Citizens Against the Pipelines PresidentPaul SansoneFounder Rivertown Coalition for Clean Air and Clean WaterOrganic Consumers Association Carol ParowskiAlexis Baden-Mayer, Esq. PresidentPolitical Director Rochester Defense Against FrackingOur Health, Our Future, Our Longmont Toby StoverKaye Fissinger OrganizerPresident SAFE: Southern Illinoisans Against FracturingPhysicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona our EnvironmentBarbara Warren Tabitha TrippChair of Board Sane Energy ProjectPikes peak Alliance for the Future Clare DonohueLaurel Biedermann Co-FounderOrganizer Save Pennsylvanias Lands Act to Safeguard ourPlains Alliance for Clean Air and Water HeritageRobert Wikler Diane SiegmundAdministrator Society for the Preservation of Democracy andPlymouth Friends of Clean Water Human Rights
  7. 7. Robert C. Laity FounderFounding President WATERSPIRITSoutheast Environmental Task Force Sr. Suzanne Golas, csjpTom Shepherd DirectorSouthern Cayuga Anti-Fracking Alliance Westchester for ChangeMichael Gorr Susan Van DolsenCoordinator Co-OrganizerSouthwest Ohio No Frack Forum Western New York Peace Center, Inc.Joanne Gerson Charley BowmanChair Interim Executive DirectorStop the Frack Attack On IL Western NY Drilling DefenseDr. Lora Chamberlain Rita YeldaOrganizer FounderSullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy What the Frack?! ArapahoeDevelopment (SACRED) Sonia Skakich-ScrimaWendy Robinson FounderFounder Williams County AllianceThe Plains Alliance for Clean Air and Water Shery FlemingRobert Winkler ChairpersonFounder Womens International League for Peace andTour De Frack Freedom (WILPF)Jason Bell Lib HutchbyCo-FounderTransition Culver CityMichelle WeinerDirectorUnited for ActionDavid BraunPresidentVillage of Cooperstown NYJames R DeanTrusteeWater Committee of the Triangle Branch ofWomens International League for Peace andFreedomJohn WagnerWater EqualityDaniel Morrissey

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