It appears Ernest Moniz might soon be getting a full Senate vote on his nomination to become the new secretary of energy, succeeding Steven Chu.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced late May 9 that the Senate has reached an agreement to consider the Moniz nomination.
“At a time to be determined by the Majority Leader, in consultation with the Republican Leader, the Senate will consider Executive Calendar #91, the nomination of Ernest J. Moniz, of Massachusetts, to be Secretary of Energy,” the notice states. It goes on to say that there will be up to three hours for debate equally divided prior to a vote on confirmation for the nomination.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been looking for a firm commitment from the Obama administration and DOE that a multi-billion-dollar mixed oxide nuclear fuel, or MOX fabrication facility in South Carolina will be completed. The MOX facility would help the United States take weapons grade plutonium and blend it down to nuclear fuel for commercial power reactors.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to approve Moniz April 18. During his confirmation hearing, Moniz stopped short of guaranteeing Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., that the Department of Energy would complete the facility.
Currently, posts for DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) all remain uncertain.
All GOP members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works boycotted a scheduled May 9 vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination to be EPA administrator. The committee’s website currently lists another on the McCarthy nomination May 16.
Meanwhile, the term for NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane is set to expire June 30. Last July Macfarlane joined NRC to fill an unexpired term. This spring she was nominated by President Obama for a full five-year term. No Senate action has been taken yet on her nomination.