March 12, 2013
Of three nominees for high federal government positions announced Monday, two will hold portfolios particularly important to Louisiana.
They are Ernest Moniz, to run the Energy Department and Gina McCarthy, to run the Environmental Protection Agency.
President Barack Obama’s nominees — including Sylvia Mathews Burwell as budget director — require confirmation by the Senate.
We know that both of Louisiana’s senators will be looking closely at the background and plans for the Energy and EPA posts, as oil and gas production and environmental concerns are significant issues in Louisiana.
McCarthy is an official in the EPA, where Louisiana native Lisa Jackson is leaving.
Moniz is a former official in the Clinton administration at Energy, but his day job is as a professor at MIT in Boston.
In a 2009 alumni interview published on Boston College’s website, Moniz said he learned to balance both political and scientific demands while working in the Clinton administration.
“Physics sometimes looked easy compared to doing the people’s business,” he said.
Physics will certainly look easier this time: The Einstein of Obama opposition, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was not in office during the Clinton administration.
So Moniz might find his confirmation discussions more robust than then.
However, McCarthy is likely to be under the microscope for Vitter, who is something of a skeptic on global warming, a key issue for Obama and McCarthy, and will closely question McCarthy on regulatory issues at the agency.
We suspect both nominees have the experience to handle themselves, but Vitter and his Louisiana Democratic colleague, Mary Landrieu, will be talking to the nominees about Louisiana’s concerns.
At the end of the day, a president deserves prompt Senate judgment on his nominees.
And there is a presumption that the Senate should not stand in the way of the president’s choices, although Vitter has stretched that rule in the past.
We look forward to hearing what Moniz and McCarthy have to say about Louisiana issues during the confirmation process.