Energy Secretary Steven Chu Has Resigned - Here Are 3 Things We Need In The Next One
    By Hank Campbell | February 4th 2013 04:47 AM | 24 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

    View Hank's Profile
    Professor Steven Chu, who was appointed Energy Secretary under as much optimism as can be imagined in late 2008, has officially resigned, a move everyone knew was coming.

    Except for his irrational CO2 fanaticism - an energy Nobel laureate who takes a job in the cabinet has to know we can't just cut off CO2, the way an academic working at a national lab can talk about it - Chu was a much safer choice than the UFO believers and Doomsday prophets the Obama administration was determined to hire after his victory in November of that year.

    Yet he ended up not doing much at all to advance America's energy future, unless you count wasting a lot of money on alternative energy projects in the nationalistic 'we are Americans, we can do anything if we throw enough money at it' fervor that sometimes possesses people.

    Now we have a chance to start over, and I have three criteria people who truly care about science - let's leave out those in science media simply gushing over a Democrat with a Nobel prize, the way the bulk of science media is idolizing Chu - should keep in mind for America's energy policy of the next few years.

    What we don't want; (1) someone who hates CO2 more than he loves America. As I wrote above, the knock on Chu was always that he had a CO2 fetish and that he was not thinking about energy as much as he was alternative energy advocacy. He proved it with claims we were in a 'race' with China to build cheap solar panels. Now what do we have? $72 billion squandered, scandalous bankruptcies and the solar panels he insisted we have to subsidize are now subsidized even more because we put tariffs on China to punish them for not being as expensive as Chu insisted they should be.  This is the same guy who said $9 a gallon gas is good for Americans. That is hating Americans, folks.

    So someone who hates the America of today is not what we need again; someone who understands how to balance the needs of a tepid yet still functional economy - and that means we will have some emissions -  with supporting basic research into cleaner energy while also utilizing the cleaner energy we have right now, is what we need instead.

    That means we also do not want (2) another anti-nuclear zealot in the administration. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a joke because it has been overrun by people who hate nuclear power.  We had a fine storage plan in Yucca mountain, endorsed by thousands of scientists over decades, that was overthrown by Senator Harry Reid and President Obama in the most ridiculous case of Scientization of Politics in recent memory; even more ridiculous than overruling all of the government scientists who said Keystone XL was safe and siding with environmental activists -Chu refused to dissuade his boss from doing the anti-science thing in both instances. This is a harder problem because, as the presence of conservatives in academia attests, once a special interest has power, they hire more of their own and don't easily give up power so the "top" people will be anti-nuclear advocates.

    But American activists have done more to prevent safe nuclear power than anyone on the pro-energy side. America leads the world in research and development and if we had been investing in nuclear technology for the last 40 years, instead of letting government be hijacked by environmental lobbyists, everyone would be safer.  If we want to assign blame for higher CO2 emissions in the last two decades, it is easy to do; American environmentalists forced us to use coal. And now they want to ban the cleaner energy they always claimed was better than coal - natural gas.

    We don't need (3) another director who reads Paul Krugman in the New York Times and believes we can just create a green economy out of fairy tale dust. This is the progressive version of nationalism I refer to above.  Unlike the conservative military kind, progressive nationalists insist if we penalize stuff they don't like, and subsidize and mandate the stuff they do like, the private sector capitalism engine will take over, because they are all greedy and corporiation-y, and make it viable.  There is a reason Krugman's most famous corporate experience is Enron.  He is a pundit - and an economic pundit at that - thus, he should be admired for his gift of prose and ignored when it comes to actual money.

    Progressive nationalists, for example, saw that various companies only lost $50 million on some types of solar panel technology and they thought if we just threw $500 million of someone else's money at it, it would somehow work. And $50 billion would be even better. Then they lost all that taxpayer money and invoked American nationalism to blame the Chinese for making solar power too cheap - which they insisted we needed to do. 

    America needs someone practical this time, not an academic who regards society and our economy as a new laboratory.  We're going to get a progressive, and it is going to be someone who will spend money like crazy and hate the few successful energy businesses in America that are still employing people.  So items 1 and 3 are probably already impossible to ask for - but if we can keep an anti-nuclear crackpot out of the job, there is at least hope we can use nuclear power and lower greenhouse gas emissions without retreating into the Stone Age.


    Just think what all of that money would have done if invested into engineering a safe small nuclear power source. Wouldn't necessarily have finished it, but it sure would have moved the ball forward.
    Never is a long time.
    Steven Chu is a walking disaster. Biofuels are a weapon of mass destruction, not a cure or a solution..

    The America people are sleepwalking to starvation. If we do not change our energy policies soon our own grandchildren will go hungry. Millions have already died worldwide for no legitimate reason other than to satisfy the corporate greed of BIG ETHANOL and small minded personal political ambition.

    Switchgrass, algae, giant reed, and all the rest will never produce an ecologically benign fuel that people can afford to use. Biofuel production and the food cost hyperinflation it has created are a major cause of our current economic collapse. We are eroding away our irreplaceable topsoil producing engine rotting, energy inefficient fuels that consumers do not even want in their cars. Biofuels = agricultural suicide!

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu is myopic and does not understand the consequences of what he is doing. Obama picked Chu only because his responsible science advisors told him the truth, that biofuels are a global disaster, not a solution to any problem.

    Please view THE GLOBAL BIOFUEL DISASTER on YouTube at:

    Please view my YouTube video, WINDMILLS KILL BIRDS at:

    For better noncarbon, nontoxic energy alternatives such as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR), see THE RENEWABLE ENERGY DISASTER -

    The only useful renewable energy schemes for large scale energy production are hydroelectric power and to a much lesser extent, geothermal power. All the rest have only done the world harm.

    Christopher Calder - nonprofit, nonpartisan food security advocate

    But American activists have done more to prevent safe nuclear power than anyone on the pro-energy side. America leads the world in research and development and if we had been investing in nuclear technology for the last 40 years, instead of letting government be hijacked by environmental lobbyists, everyone would be safer. 
    The impression I get from comparative analyses is that the stumbling block for building new nuclear power plants is not safety or anti-nuclear lobbyists but the relatively high cost of building the power plants. 

    Well, no, not then.  Energy deregulation happened in America because American nuclear power was so cheap. Obviously technology moved on - so instead of making the world's nuclear power safer for the last 40 years by improving it, we found cheaper, better ways to get natural gas and coal with our brainpower.

    If cost were the issue, there would be no new proposals for nuclear plants.  But since the 1990s the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been the obstacle to all new plants, they have been hijacked by anti-nuclear believers. The Yucca mountain fiasco is basically the death knell for nuclear power in the US - but if I were president, I would replace the NRC and have nuclear back in the energy mix, so we could continue to migrate away from CO2 sources.
    IMO it was the high cost of getting all of the permits, and fighting all of the lawsuits, and cost of delays brought on by activists.
    It is very ironic that nuclear would solve their issue with greenhouse gases, if those same activists wouldn't rather the human population be reduced to 1% of it's current size instead.
    Never is a long time.
    For what is supposed to be a science website it seems like there is a lot of overt political writing.

    Both Japan and Germany are on the verge of shutting their nuclear industries down--I do not think it is activists of any kind responsible for that--it is the reality of the costs of nuclear energy both economically and geographically (land lost to productivity for what is, in human terms, eternity) when things go horribly wrong.

    Japan changed their minds about shutting down their nuclear power shortly after they announced it.  And regarding Germany...
    I do not think it is activists of any kind responsible for that absolutely wrong. That is the key reason they are reducing it - or say they will anyway.  Their companies are bailing out of solar because the government can't afford the subsidies so nuclear will be back on the table there also, I predict.
    Anyway, to stay on point - you believe the next Energy Secretary should hate CO2 more than they love America, should be anti-nuclear uber alles and should throw money at alternative energy that we know does not work? 
    Anyway, to stay on point - you believe the next Energy Secretary should hate CO2 more than they love America, should be anti-nuclear uber alles and should throw money at alternative energy that we know does not work?

    That is their modus operandi, and he won a mandate, so if anything I predict he jogs left.
    Never is a long time.
    Harry Reid pulls the strings at the NRC and you can be sure he is not letting an Energy Secretary get nominated that will deviate from his anti-nuclear agenda. There is always hope that a second term president will shuck off politics and do his own thing, but that may be even worse. Pres. Obama hired so many UFO believers - and a guy who thinks girls can't do math - along with pretty blatant partisan advocates, so if he throws out political practicality, the administration may be even more anti-science in its second term.
    Rick Ryals
    he won a mandate

    I sure hope that you're wrong because Bush thought the same thing even though it wasn't true.  There was about 6% of the population that consists of sane, swing voting moderates and independents who reside in the middle that decided who got elected, and I can assure Obama that he didn't get a mandate for everything left from them, just as GWB didn't get the mandate that he assumed that he did when he decided to double-down on Iraq.  Bush went out with the second lowest approval rating in history.

    Right, Obama won with people making under $50K a year and lost among voters making more than that.  So clearly his mandate could be spun as that he created a whole bunch more people making under $50K a year.

    There hasn't been a mandate since Reagan yet every president since claimed he had one. Heck, Clinton claimed he had one and got 44% of the vote.
    Rick Ryals
    Even when there is a "mandate" it isn't the free pass that they interpret it to be. Mandates of this nature are conditional to a specific aspect of the party, like the republican's fiscal medicine vs. Keynesian economics, as I expect that you might point out.  Mandates are taken far too seriously... ;)
    I should have italicized that statement, unfortunately the left thinks it true.

    As for W, I don't think there was a mandate, nor do I remember his administration claiming it had one. But the surge in Iraq worked. Saddam told the FBI he was planning on continuing his WMD program then the deteriorating sanctions were lifted, and:

    Kay told the SASC during his oral report the following, though: "Based on the intelligence that existed, I think it was reasonable to reach the conclusion that Iraq posed an imminent threat. Now that you know reality on the ground as opposed to what you estimated before, you may reach a different conclusion-—although I must say I actually think what we learned during the inspection made Iraq a more dangerous place, potentially, than, in fact, we thought it was even before the war."

    Kay's team established that the Iraqi regime had the production capacity and know-how to produce chemical and biological weaponry if international economic sanctions were lifted, a policy change which was actively being sought by a number of United Nations member states. Kay also believed some components of the former Iraqi regime's WMD program had been moved to Syria shortly before the 2003 invasion,[3] though the Duelfer Report Addenda (see below) later reported there was no evidence of this.

    IMO, history will be much kinder to W than those who despise him can imagine. And while the Duelfer report dismissed the idea in 2005, there is a lot of news about Syria having chemical weapons to use on it's citizens, the news seems to imply they're from Iran, or Russia, but Syria is not going to tell us where they actually came from.

    Never is a long time.
    Rick Ryals
    "As for W, I don't think there was a mandate, nor do I remember his administration claiming it had one."

    No, GWB said, "the people have spoken", and in the eyes of the vast vast majority, he then overstepped their meaning in a big way.

    In the eyes of the vast majority who then slammed the crap out of the party in the Congressional and Presidential election giving Obama the first super-majority that the libs have seen in a very long time.

    "In the eyes of a damning number the people". I have zero desire to judge what was right or wrong with Bush's policy, I merely point out that his consolation statement when he left office with such a low rating from the people tells a story that moderate, swing-voting independents who actually elect presidents... do not want to hear.

    I can hold my head high since I stuck to my principles...

    Ideologues never get it and it costs them dearly in every case... as Obama learned in the mid-term congressional and state elections.

    The world doesn't ever act, it only over-reacts...
    I don't remember that, but fair enough.
    Never is a long time.
    Rick Ryals
    Thanks, Mi Cro, I appreciate that, but I was wrong, apparently he did claim a mandate:

    In his first press conference after his reelection, President said that the American people had given him a mandate and he intended to use it to implement his policies.  “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it,” Bush said. “It is my style.”  “When you win, there is … a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view,” Bush said.”

    And it was his Historian in Chief who said the part about his principles:

    GWB said:
    "You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made," Bush said, "but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions."

    Ed Gillespie said:

    "I think he would like to be remembered as someone who stuck by his principles," Gillespie said in a White House briefing, "understanding that in making tough decisions not everyone is going to agree with the tough decisions that he's made."

    Where, "not everyone" is code for "pretty much anybody that you might happen to bump into"... lol  At that time anyway...
    Well, he did earn political capital. He won the election in 2000 by a hair but trounced John Kerry in 2004.  Sure, we know it was because Kerry was laughable but history does not remember it that way, they just look at the numbers.  To the future, Bush's popularity went up. 

    Mandate is used by everyone because it has no legitimate definition in politics. It's one of those fuzzy social terms. Pres. Clinton, as I said, claimed a mandate even with well under 50% of the vote - and got his health care trounced and lost Congress the next election, just like Pres. Obama did. Clearly, mandate does not mean what presidents think it means.
    Rick Ryals
    That's for sure.
    We need a DOE that isn't trying to add radioactive waste that could end up in pots, pans, silverware, etc.

    "Tell DOE: "Recycling" with radioactive materials is NOT acceptable!"

    "The Department of Energy (DOE) is considering a plan to allow radioactively-contaminated metal from nuclear weapons facilities to be “recycled.” This would allow this toxic metal to be mixed with clean recycled metal and enter into normal commerce—where it could be turned into anything from your next pants zipper to baby toys."

    And we need more people who think nuclear energy is "safe" to read the headlines on

    Nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, one of Obama's science and energy advisers, may be the next energy secretary. He was undersecretary at the Energy Department during the Clinton administration, so he helped oversee the dismantling of our nuclear energy industry, and was put on a Blue Ribbon panel to find an "alternative" to the scientifically validated Yucca Mountain, so he puts politics properly before science when it counts, but he does not have the irrational CO2 hatred and rose-colored glasses approach to solar power that Chu has.

    So 1 out of 3 is an improvement.
    I do not think that there has been a "scientization of politics" so much as there has been a suppression of scientific process when it is politically expedient.

    NRC will never again be apolitical and independent. Geologists, if they have the proper business/industry management experience might be qualified to run the USGS. Theoretical physicists might do well pondering Hubble telescope pictures. Alex McDonough is being prepped to be the next NRC political appointee and I doubt he's ever worn a dosimeter. What's next, Basketweaving? (Apologies to all bonafide basketweavers who bring art, beauty and craftsmanship to a world much in need of it.)

    YM failed because its was not fee-based funding and lack of funding was (and will continue to be) a trump card for any administration to subvert the rule of law. The pending Court of Appeals decision will go nowhere as long as long as Harry Reid is majority "leader".

    Please don't get on anybody's case because they oppose the mindless boondoggle called "Yucca Mountain", even if they oppose it for the wrong reasons. We'd be better off economically if we threw all our gold into that pit instead of our spent nuclear fuel(SNF) or weapons material. That material is VERY valuable fuel for our future energy needs; we just need to get the right reactors on-line in order to use it. The Integral Fast Reactor and the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor come to mind for that purpose. They will burn it, we will get electricity out of it and it will then be gone. It's idiotic to throw it away now. It's not hurting anybody where it is and it will keep until we need it. Please get over this obsession with the "nuclear waste" problem. It's just fear propoganda from the anti-nuclear movement.

    And here's an idea: If we site these new IFR's or LFTR's in the immediate vicinity of all of our SNF pools, we won't have to move the stuff around on our roads or waterways.

    Gerhard Adam
    That is hating Americans, folks.
    Hmmm ... wonder what we call those Republicans that voted to pull the plug on the Argonne IFR prototype in 1994 [since they voted overwhelmingly to stop the project].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Pres. Clinton said he was terminating it in his State of the Union address in 1994 and Democrats controlled Congress. The budget Clinton submitted in 1994 had no funding for it, he was actively opposed to it and the anti-IFR group was led by John Kerry, not a Republican.

    You would have an easier time arguing that the anti-science positions of Democrats brought Republicans to power in January of 1995, since they canceled this and the SSC. That would be a stretch, but not as much as claiming the IFR being painted as 'nuclear proliferation' was a Republican agenda.