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  • Our New Energy Secretary

    It’s confirmation week and the hearing for nominee for Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu, is tomorrow, January 13th. We’ve written about Chu before (here and here) and my colleagues Ben Lieberman and Jack Spencer have come up with 5 key questions he’ll inevitably have to answer as Energy Secretary. In fact, Spencer and Lieberman even provide answers to make things easier for Chu.

    Two of my favorites:

    Question #1: Gasoline Prices

    Last September you made the statement that “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which at the time exceeded $8.00 a gallon. As secretary of energy, will you speak for or against any measures that would raise the price of gasoline?

    Answer: Clearly, the American people want energy that is more affordable, not less. High gasoline prices hurt everyone, especially those with low incomes, and weaken the overall economy.[1] It is the role of the secretary of energy to work for the benefit of the American people by advocating policies that keep energy as inexpensive as possible. To do otherwise would be fundamentally at odds with the very purpose of the Department of Energy.

    Question #5: Nuclear Energy

    You have publicly recognized the critical role of nuclear energy in meeting our nation’s growing energy demand. You have also suggested that with nuclear fuel recycling a permanent geologic repository at Yucca Mountain is not essential.[3] What is your position on the scientific viability of Yucca Mountain, and do you support allowing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete its review of the Department of Energy’s permit application for Yucca Mountain?

    Answer: While recycling used nuclear fuel will likely be a critical element to any comprehensive used nuclear fuel management strategy, it is unclear that such processes will alleviate the need for some permanent geologic storage. This is especially true for America’s defense-related nuclear waste, which requires permanent geologic storage.

    Although President-elect Obama and others have voiced opposition to Yucca based on concerns over safety, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose job it is to make such determinations, is currently reviewing the Department of Energy’s application to build Yucca. It should be allowed to carry out its mission.

    Outside of defense-related activities, one of the primary jobs of the DOE is to dispose of the nation’s commercial nuclear waste. The problem is that the DOE has an abysmal record in carrying out this mission. While America’s energy consumers have paid the U.S. government roughly $28 billion (payments and interest) to dispose of nuclear waste, the U.S. government has collected no waste from utilities. In addition to that, there is no consensus on how to move forward.

    This is in direct contrast to nuclear fuel-related activities and power plant operations. Both of these functions are privatized and operate safe and efficiently. Only so-called back-end activities (or those related to waste management) fall under the purview of the federal government, and only they remain dysfunctional. That is why it is essential to begin the process of moving responsibility of waste management to those that produce the waste.

    The full Q & A, along with additional information, can be found here.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Our New Energy Secretary

    1. Wayne from Jeremiah says:

      I've linked to and quoted your post for a reference on Obama Picks Steven Chu for his Department of Energy Secretary

    2. Thomas Gray South Ca says:

      Mr, Mark Wolfe, said across the country, the number of terminated utility accounts among the nation’s 95.6 million residential energy customers is skyrocketing as the economy sinks, among some other points, he is executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. One other point he made is “Families that were middle class last week are not middle class anymore.”

      How can anyone justify people like these being unnessasarily forced to pay higher utility cost. Without all the stumbling blocks placed against nuclear power electric generating stations, the cost of electricity here in the U.S. would be much less for all of us. And maybe at least have some affordable electricity for light industry and manufacturing

      people need JOBS that contribute to a better life, not government doled money that's being borrowed that cannot be sustained. These power stations run for sixty plus years, my children just like yours need jobs, affordable electricity is a critical part of there lives and there future, we must find a way to get the anti energy activist off the backs of our utility providers.

      Destroying whats left of our econimy by increasing the cost of gas to ten dollars a gallon is I hope soon to be realized not what any car owner wants or needs just ask one.

      We don't have unending supplies of cheap oil now is the time to change our fuel source for transportation. Where is the alternative energy truck? it's not even on the radar

      yet no oil means no trucks. another critical part of our and our children's future, com-on lets build an alternative fuel truck and see if we can get some on our roads other than diesel and NG. affordable NG, is already a problem it's not the answer for a truck fuel.

    3. Brian O'Connell says:

      The questions on Yucca Mountain are very appropriate. The Heritage Foundation has done some insightful analysis of the nuclear waste situation and has tried to stimulate workable solutions.

      I know what is intended by saying, "there is no consensus on how to move forward," but I would say that there was consensus in 2002 when Congress voted to override the veto of the Yucca Mountain site suitability designation. Wasn't that supposed to then be the "law of the land?" The State of Nevada did not and does not accept it as such and, more critically, the present Majority Leader of the Senate has vowed that the repository will never be built. Further, he claims that the Obama Administration will not support the project, even if the project is not cancelled outright. Congress, in 1987, purposefully chose to have no Plan B, so if Yucca is cancelled, we may be back at square one.

    4. Thomas Gray South Ca says:

      OK whats the problem lets push to return to square one and get this show on the road. the U.S.A. is a very large country there must someplace we can find to plan out and build a modern safe and functional place.

    5. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      More "wishful thinking", this time with a twist…"role playing".

      Hey! These are Leftist/Socialist government elitists we're faced with, people!

      As the truism goes, "Government does not invest for equity return, government invests for return at the ballot box"!

      So, the only way to really really even begin repairing and recovering from all the Leftist/Socialist government elitism which is comming? To spell it out, "E-l-e-c-t-i-o-n-s"…"Elections", as in the next two (2) elections in the years 2010 and 2012, which is what it'll take to "boot the (Leftists and government elitists) out"!

    6. Thomas Gray South Ca says:


      We won't start having brownouts and blackouts until after this election cycle but by then many will have figured out who to vote out and who supports affordable electricity,

      The problem that I see is that the majority of the people are going to believe the socialist controlled wind and solar media news right up until the lights go out.

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