MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Congressional delegation will host a White House cabinet official at Middlebury College on Friday.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will join Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch for a panel on energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change.
The panel will be held at the McCullough Student Center at 10 a.m., and will be followed by a question and answer session. The event is open to the public.
Moniz was confirmed unanimously as Energy Secretary last May. The nuclear physicist and Massachusetts native earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University in 1972 and joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the following year.
He served in several science-related positions during the Clinton Administration, including as the Under Secretary of Energy from 1997 to 2001.
Sanders said Moniz, as the Secretary of Energy, is one of the most influential government officials when it comes to formulating policy to address climate change.
“Along with the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, he’s one of the most important people in the administration in dealing with this issue,” Sanders said.
Moniz has said he believes that climate change is largely caused my humans, and has advocated for tighter regulations for greenhouse gas polluters.
The summit panel comes in the wake of a comprehensive report, titled the National Climate Assessment, released by the White House last week. The report, comprising hundreds of pages, is the culmination of years of research by scientists across the country. It posits that the effects of climate change — such as rising temperatures, increased precipitation, more frequent droughts and rising sea levels — are already being felt in the United States.
Sanders, a member of Senate committees on energy and the environment, said he and Leahy invited Moniz to Vermont to showcase the state’s efforts to shift toward clean energy.
“We have for a long time been very aggressive in promoting energy efficiency,” Sanders said. “In many ways we are consuming less energy, despite economic growth.”
Sanders praised the work of Efficiency Vermont, a utility run by the nonprofit Vermont Energy Investment Corp. that promotes energy efficiency through technical and financial assistance.
Sanders last year guided federal funds to a solar test center in Williston, and in 2011 helped secure $8.5 million to install solar panels at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington.
The senator said the state has been a leader in promoting solar energy.
“Anyone who drives around the state sees an increasing number of photovoltaic panels in Vermont,” Sanders said. “Green Mountain Power has been very aggressive in making Rutland a solar city.”
Sanders, along with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced legislation in 2013 that would fund improvements in energy efficiency by implementing a tax on carbon emissions. Efforts to pass that and similar legislation thus far have failed.
Moniz on Friday will also visit Rutland County.