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Senate confirms physicist Ernest Moniz as energy chief

5:09 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
Ernest Moniz testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on April 9. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta AP)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has unanimously confirmed President Obama's nominee to lead the Energy Department.

Physicist Ernest Moniz is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Moniz replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in Obama's first term.

Moniz was an energy undersecretary in the Clinton administration.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had delayed a vote on Moniz for several weeks. Graham was protesting Obama's plan to cut about $200 million from a South Carolina project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors.

Graham and other GOP lawmakers said the plan jeopardized a plant being built at the Savannah River nuclear site.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. He calls Moniz smart, savvy and solution-oriented.

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