Jan 13, 2009
Steven Chu, who will oversee the labs at Los Alamos and Sandia as energy secretary, got his first taste of Washington Tuesday.
And by all reports it was a friendly affair.
Chu appeared Tuesday before Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s committee, Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the federal department. And neither controversy nor tension reared its ugly head between the lawmakers and Chu, a physicist and Nobel laureate.
According to the Associated Press, Chu said “he will aggressively pursue policies aimed at addressing climate change and achieving greater energy independence by developing clean energy sources.”
The AP added:
“But he also told lawmakers that he views nuclear power and coal as critical parts of the nation’s energy mix and said he was optimistic that ways can be found to make coal a cleaner energy source by capturing its carbon dioxide emissions.”
Chu is an advocate for much more energy research and for exploring alternative energy sources.
Later, Chu said “nuclear energy produces a fifth of the nation’s electricity and 70 percent of the carbon-free electricity” and “is going to be an important part of our energy mix,” the AP reported.
It was unclear where Chu stands on the future of New Mexico’s two labs, however. And as of this writing there was little analysis on LANL’s must-read blog, LANL: The Rest of The Story. But that could change.
During his testimony, Chu said high gasoline prices were a threat to the economy, which The New York Times noted was a retreat from earlier statements Chu has made, including that prices should be higher. Of domestic oil production, “Chu reiterated Obama’s views that some expansion of offshore oil and gas development should be included as a broader energy plan,” the AP reported.
Bingaman, for his part, said Chu had the “insight and vision” to press Obama’s energy policies at the department.
Bingaman, the AP reported, said he saw no serious opposition to Chu’s nomination and that a committee vote approving his selection would likely occur later this week.
[See also: LA Times: Jeff Bingaman not informed of Obama’s energy, interior choices.]