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Daniel  Poneman

Daniel Poneman

Former Deputy Secretary of Energy (2009-2014) & Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Biography

Daniel Poneman is a Senior Fellow with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. From 2009 to 2014, Poneman served as Deputy Secretary of Energy, in which capacity he also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Between April 23, 2013, and May 21, 2013, Poneman served as Acting Secretary of Energy. Read More >

Poneman's responsibilities at the Department of Energy spanned the full range of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, including fossil and nuclear energy, renewables and energy efficiency, and international cooperation around the world. He led 2009 negotiations to address Iran’s nuclear program, participated in the Deputies' Committee at the National Security Council and played an instrumental role in the Department’s response to crises from Fukushima to the Libyan civil war and more. After Hurricane Sandy, Tom Kuhn, President of the Edison Electric Institute, said of Poneman, “We will be forever grateful for your tremendous leadership in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and for your help in creating the valuable industry-government partnership that greatly strengthens the electric sector’s preparedness and response to storms, as well as cyber and physical security threats.” 

Prior to assuming his responsibilities as Deputy Secretary, Poneman served as a principal of The Scowcroft Group for eight years, providing strategic advice to corporations on a wide variety of international projects and transactions. Between tours of government service, he practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C. – first as an associate at Covington & Burling, later as a partner at Hogan & Hartson.

Poneman received A.B. and J.D. degrees with honors from Harvard University and an M.Litt. in Politics from Oxford University. He has published widely on energy and national security issues and is the author of Nuclear Power in the Developing World and Argentina: Democracy on Trial. His third book, Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis (coauthored with Joel Wit and RobertGallucci), received the 2005 Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy.

Climate change poses a growing threat to American energy security, adding an increasingly urgent layer to an already complex geopolitical issue. Addressing our technological, environmental and security needs in his speeches, Daniel Poneman will outline the challenges and set out the vision and necessary actions for a future where Americans will drive the innovations and investments that will promote jobs and prosperity. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

The Changing Face of American Energy

At the beginning of the 20th Century, powered flight remained a dream, coal dominated fueled transportation and horses outnumbered automobiles in the United States by a factor of more than 2500 to one. No one could have imagined the extraordinary energy transformations that shaped the history of the last century. In 2015, we once again face a changing energy landscape, as traditional fossil fuels, nuclear, renewable power and efficiency all struggle for their place in the future, even as America’s aging infrastructure leave it increasingly vulnerable to hurricanes, droughts, and cyberattack. Our national security, prosperity and environment all hang in the balance as governments, investors, inventors and private citizens all hang in the balance. More than five years as Deputy Secretary of Energy gave Daniel Poneman unique insights which he will use to reflect on America’s energy present — and future.

Winning the Future: A New American Policy to Fight Nuclear Terrorism & Climate Change

Only two threats are jeopardizing the survival of our species: nuclear destruction and climate change. We are not doing enough to stop either of these existential threats, but we know how to do much more to stop both. What is needed is a coherent approach integrating both challenges in a sustainable bipartisan consensus. The greatest generation of Americans faced commensurate challenges in the Cold War and prevailed, while presiding over the greatest economic surge in American history. Daniel Poneman advises in this speech that our generation can and must do the same. 

Energy Security in a Changing World

Every US president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama deplored America’s excessive dependence on foreign oil and called for urgent action to promote energy independence. After two generations, American ingenuity and determination have now produced a prodigious outpouring of oil and natural gas that have transformed the United States into the number one hydrocarbon producer in the world. Learn from Daniel Poneman what this means for the security – and prosperity – for the US and its friends and allies around the world, and for our rivals and adversaries.

Flirting with Disaster: Confronting Cyberthugs, Superstorms & Other Threats to Our Critical Infrastructures

From Hurricane Sandy to cyberattacks on our financial institutions to physical assaults against electrical power substations across America, we are facing an unprecedented surge of threats to our critical infrastructures that threaten our safety, security and prosperity. Untold millions of secrets and billions of dollars have been stolen, and much greater damage could be inflicted. Daniel Poneman explains to audiences what Americans must do to protect their life and property in the face of spiraling threats of increasing scale and sophistication.