Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, D.C., January 12, 2009—President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, is clearly an immensely able man, as demonstrated by his being awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997. The trouble with Dr. Chu isn’t his qualifications or ability, but rather that he agrees enthusiastically with Mr. Obama’s global warming and energy policies, which cannot possibly achieve the goals Mr. Obama claimed they would during the presidential campaign.
Mr. Obama said during the campaign last summer that gasoline prices were too high, yet his proposed cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would raise gas prices even higher than last summer’s $4 a gallon. Electricity prices would be raised even more for most Americans. Emissions will decline only if higher prices force Americans to use less energy or use higher-priced alternatives.
Secretary-Designate Chu has also made a point of attacking coal – the nation’s most affordable and reliable energy source – even going so far to describe coal-fired power plants as his “worst nightmare.” With Dr. Chu at the helm, consumers should expect greater restrictions on power plant development and higher prices for coal and electricity across the board.
President-elect Obama has vowed to make the United States independent of foreign oil, yet has consistently voted against increasing domestic production by opening federal lands and offshore areas to oil and natural gas exploration. He wants to create 2.5 million “green” jobs (down from the campaign promise of 5 million), yet doesn’t recognize that this will be a net negative to the economy. Forcing consumers to pay more for “green” energy will mean less money to spend on other things, such as food, shelter, and luxuries such as vacation travel, electronic appliances, and Starbucks coffee.
President-elect Obama recently set a goal to double the use of alternative energy within three years. Dr. Chu was nominated because he became personally interested in the global warming debate and became a proponent of renewable energy technologies. The questions Dr. Chu should be asked are whether he thinks this is a realistic goal and how much he thinks it will cost. His answers should provide a good indication of what kind of Secretary of Energy he will be.
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