Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz. (energy.gov)
Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz was on hand to discuss energy policy on day two of the Ideas Forum hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic. He was asked a range of questions from his thoughts on tax reform to what’s necessary to get better energy infrastructure investment in the United States.
But first, almost immediately after taking his seat, Moniz was asked “What’s the harm in doing Keystone?” And almost just as immediately he deferred to Secretary of State John Kerry, who was the previous guest on stage, and whose State Department has jurisdiction over construction of the pipeline.
Only 30 seconds in and we had our first artful dodge.
Next, the moderator turned to tax reform and how it would affect the incentives for energy investment embedded in the current tax code. Specifically he wanted to know “Is there a cost to not using tax credits and tax policy as an incentive for behavior?” Moniz expressed his support for energy tax credits, particularly the ones involving renewable energy. “We need to extend those renewable tax credits and do it in a way where there is predictably on all sides.” He added that without predictability it’s difficult for both firms and customers to make sound financial decisions.
When the topic turned to energy infrastructure investment, Moniz stressed that there was no issue with the current level of investment. However, the direction of investment dollars should be shifted. He specifically noted the lack of natural gas in New England, propane in the midwest, or the fact the we are using rail to transport oil.
Finally, when asked about Republican charges of a “War on Coal.” He reiterated that he takes an “all of the above” approach to energy policy before adding: “Make no bones about it. There is a fundamental commitment, it starts with the president, on moving toward a low carbon future.”