Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stephen Chu Senate Confirmation Hearing

Stephen Chu, President-elect Barack Obama's designee to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. Although he was warmly received, he was peppered with numerous questions about coal and nuclear power. Mr. Chu handled himself very well. His wife and brother accompanied him to the hearing. AAEA President Norris McDonald spoke to Mr. Chu after the hearing about a specific energy issue.

Senators challenged Mr. Chu on his coal and nuclear positions and asked for clarifications. He expressed support for nuclear power and coal as parts of the nation's energy mix. He described his views about nuclear spent fuel recycling (supports it), accelerating use of loan guarantees for building new nuclear plants (supports it), and clean coal through carbon capture (supports it). Chu hedged his bets on offshore oil drilling because the Obama administration has not established a clear position on this issue. Chu was enthusiastic when discussing climate change and using energy efficiency as the principle weapon to combat it and to reduce our nation's dependence on imported oil. He stated that America needs cooperation with China and India if climate change and coal ue are to be reconciled.

The DOE has a $25 billion budget and 14,000 employees and more than 193,000 contract workers. Stephen Chu has been director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which has 4,000 employees, since 2004.

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