Chu: Budget Stalemate Could Cripple Clean Energy Efforts

Feb. 19, 2013—Steven Chu, the Obama Administration’s outgoing Energy Secretary, says the so-called sequestration could seriously impede the nation’s efforts to shift to a sustainable energy economy.

Chu, a former professor at Stanford and UC Berkeley, is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has long been a leading voice in the fight against global warming. Since taking office in 2008, he has lent the Department of Energy’s considerable intellectual muscle to the effort to break our addiction to fossil fuels.

In just four years, numerous projects in the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) have achieved remarkable technical breakthroughs. ARPA-E research has doubled the energy density of lithium batteries, reduced the size of high-power transistors while increasing their capacity, and engineered microbes that can turn hydrogen and carbon dioxide into transportation fuel.

“Reduced funding in the clean energy area would scale back the Department’s ability to spur such accomplishments,” Chu says, “slowing progress toward a transformed, 21st Century energy sector.”

He says the Department of Energy has been working hard to reduce the cost and speed the adoption of clean energy technologies—from high-efficiency solar installations to carbon capture and storage to next-generation biofuels.

“Under sequestration, funding reductions would decelerate the Nation’s transition into a clean energy economy, and could weaken efforts to become more energy independent and energy secure, while spurring overall economic growth.”

Chu announced on Feb. 1 that he would not serve during Pres. Obama's second term. His last duty as Secretary of Energy will be to host the fourth annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, which he pioneered. He will make several appearances at the Summit, including in a "fireside chat" with Elon Musk of Tesla Motors.