Most people who drive cars are concerned about higher gas prices, but not Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. His goal, he told a congressional hearing on the 2013 budget, is to wean the U.S. off oil, regardless of what it does to the price of gasoline today. Asked directly by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) whether it “is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, Chu replied “No.”
Chu had—now famously—said in 2008, before he was appointed to his position by President Obama, that somehow we need to get the price of gasoline up to European prices, or about $8 per gallon. While Chu didn’t retract that goal, he said that the Obama administration was concerned about the “great suffering” of the American people, but that it was more important to the Department of Energy to “diversify our energy supply of transportation,” giving examples of “pushing on natural gas, electrification is great,” citing battery research funding.
Obama-backed electric energy companies have notoriously filed for bankruptcy, recently battery developer Ener1, which filed for Chapter 11 protection not long before Chu’s remarks. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), a leader of the congressional investigation into the loan to failed solar panel maker Solyndra, called Ener1 part of the “growing list of failed companies that went belly up” with taxpayer money. “Sadly, the Department of Energy’s jobs record seems to grow worse by the day . . . and it is American taxpayers who are paying the price,” he said.
There’s one person who isn’t paying the price, at least at the gas pump, is Secretary Chu. As he said at the congressional hearing, “I don’t own a car at the moment,” and chuckled. The Secretary of Energy—like all Cabinet secretaries—travels to and from work in a government limousine.