Coal will continue to hold an important place in the country’s energy portfolio, Moniz said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Moniz said both he and the president strongly supported an “all-of-the above” energy policy that included traditional energy sources and renewables.
"The president made clear that we anticipate that coal and other fossil fuels are going to play a significant role for quite some time on the way to a very low carbon economy," Moniz told the AP.
Obama’s three-pronged plan, presented as a 21-page blueprint, focuses on slicing domestic carbon emissions – which may likely result in staggering changes to US coal production and electricity generation – as well as upping investments in climate-resilience measures and stepping up to a lead role in international climate change issues.
The president has ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency to “expeditiously” complete performance standards to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants and finalize carbon limits rules for new facilities by September 20.
The EPA has also been directed to draft carbon limits for existing power plants by June of next year. Those limits will ultimately be finalized in 2015.
The plan has upset many coal-state leaders, power companies, coal producers and unions across the nation, who argue that it will damage the economy, threaten jobs and increase electricity prices.
Moniz said he was sympathetic to that point of view, saying a key part of the president's strategy was to push technical innovations such as carbon storage.
"We have an aggressive technology department program that will lower the cost of doing that," he said.
Moniz highlighted part of the plan that would offer up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for technologies that prevented power plant carbon-dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
"It's not going to happen tomorrow, but I believe in this decade we will have demonstrated the viability of large-scale storage" of carbon-dioxide from industrial operations, Moniz said.
Moniz is a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. He was sworn in as the nation’s 13th Secretary of Energy last month.