At a Glance
- Career History: Principal, The Scowcroft Group (2001-2009); Attorney, Hogan & Hartson (1996-2001); Special Assistant to the President and head of the Directorate for Nonproliferation and Export Controls at the National Security Council (1993-1996)
- Birthday: March 12, 1956
- Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
- Alma Mater: A.B.-Harvard University (1978), M. Litt.-Oxford University (1980), J.D.-Harvard University (1984)
- Spouse: Susan
- DC Office: U.S. Department of Energy,1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20585, 202-586-5000
- Web site
Path to Power
Born in Toledo Ohio, Poneman had his first experience working for the government in 1975 as a summer intern for his home state senator, John Glenn (D). "That summer launched a lifelong interest in energy, national security, and the relationship between the two disciplines," he recalled during his Senate confirmation hearing over 30 years later.
Poneman received his A.B. in 1978 at Harvard University, and then left Cambridge, Mass. for Oxford, England to earn his M. Litt. in politics in 1980. He then returned to the states to attend Harvard Law School. He wrote his first book, Nuclear Power in the Developing World, which was published in 1982, and graduated with his J.D. in 1984. He spent the mid-to late-1980s in Argentina researching for his 1987 book entitled Argentina: Democracy On Trial, and working as an attorney at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. He had his first post at the Energy Department when he participated in the White House Fellows program from 1989 to 1990.
Poneman has extensive experience in nuclear power and the varied issues that become entangled in the debate over this controversial energy source. Poneman advocates global development of nuclear power plants juxtaposed with vigilant nonproliferation efforts involving weapons.
After working on nuclear-energy issues for decades, Poneman has felt the tides turn on its reputation as a power source. Beyond the fear that nuclear power supply programs might be used to develop weapons and the concern over what to do about nuclear waste, the accidents at the fomer Soviet Union's plant in Chrenobyl and the Pennsylvania-based Three Mile Island turned public favor against nuclear energy. But time has passed, and with it, popular support (along with energy prices) has risen, particularly as new developments in reactor designs improve their efficiency and safety. Many also see nuclear power as an environmentally-friendly option compared with fossil fuels.
Poneman serves under DOE Secretary Steven Chu, who he has described as "a brilliant scientist" who is "uniquely qualified to spearhead the implementation of a new energy strategy."
He has also worked with Brent Scowcroft, head of international business advisory firm the Scowcroft Group, who had formerly served as National Security Adviser to presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.
During the 2008 election season, Poneman twice donated $2,300 to Obama's campaign, and another $1,000 to elect Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). He also made other contributions towards Democratic fundraising efforts that add up to over a thousand additional dollars.