Moniz talks energy & Biden restart of nuclear talks on MSNBC

EFI Founder & CEO Ernest Moniz appeared on both CNN and MSNBC the last week to offer perspective and expertise on separate events — a domestic infrastructure crisis in Texas and the reactivation of international energy diplomacy with Iran.

On February 18, Moniz appeared on CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto to discuss the Texas grid and the political response to the crisis. Specifically, Moniz commented that Texas’s lack of capacity markets, meaning that they don’t have significant margins of reserve capacity, catalyzed the crisis when demand increased. This is an indicator that we need to weatherize for both extremes, said Moniz. Both major polar vortex cold spells as well as increased drought and heat in the summer require grid hardening and development to increase resilience. There is a need for federal funding to meet these needs, Moniz commented, which can provide new opportunities for the energy transition in the coming years.

Moniz also underscored the severity of the crisis, and that “this issue of the event of the century becoming the event of the decade, on the pathway to event of the year is something we need to face up to in terms of adaptation.”

On February 19, Moniz appeared on MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson to discuss the Biden administration’s formal offer to restart nuclear talks with Iran and officially rejoin the Paris Agreement. In the interview, Moniz commented that the restart of nuclear talks is a welcome step: “The last four years have put us behind in every dimension to make sure that Iran has no nuclear weapon.” Moniz also emphasized that the reactivation of diplomacy was a step-by-step process — no magical solution that will happen overnight. Reciprocal steps need to be taken in tandem with Iran. In order to ensure that Iran is not reinvigorating a nuclear arms program, Moniz said that Biden’s role is to encourage partnership between the U.S. and European nations, as well as across the aisle at home. In moving toward a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Plus” (JCPOA), Moniz said that it is essential to have all the players in line to address the Rouhani administration and internal Iranian divisions.

The United States needs to earn its seat back at the table and regain both international and domestic credibility. Moniz agreed that Biden’s push to formally rejoin the Paris Agreement is “absolutely” a step towards earning that seat back. He added that appointing John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate was the first step and that now, Kerry must “walk the talk” domestically in order to earn back that credibility, working both at home and abroad to reach net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury.

-Emelia Williams

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