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“Forcing people to save is a cost that I am willing to bear.”

July 26th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu took on conservative economists in comments this evening, where he spoke with strong praise for regulation and standards for driving energy efficiency in appliances and other energy-related systems.

Chu explained that writing regulation and setting standards are — without exception — the lowest cost move with the highest payoff to the economy that the Department of Energy can pursue.  The DOE has already doubled the rate of writing standards — while making them more aggressive.  He commented that, at a budget meeting meeting earlier today, he instructed the plan to have resources to again double standard writing.

Secretary Chu commented that there was a major gap in the DOE appliance standards program: essentially no enforcement.  On this, Chu stands with President Reagan: Trust, but verify. And, Chu added: go hard on verification. When the DOE General Counsel hired a litigator to enforce standards and began moving forward with enforcement cases, some 40 of DOE’s existing lawyers volunteered to work on enforcement cases … on top of their existing duties.

Chu commented that there are economists that will account, as a value, the reduced freedom of choice due to tightening standards.  To this, Secretary Chu noted that

Forcing people to save is a cost that I am willing to bear.

We’re going to enforce standards.

That Nobel prize, PhD, and ten patents to his name are hints that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is beyond simply a bright man.  Secretary Chu is also a dedicated public servant. He is also a thoughtful, self-effacing, and, well, simply entertaining speaker. A chance to be in the room, to seem him speak, is one  of those things not to pass up.

This evening Secretary Chu spoke at an evening reception leading into tomorrow’s Center for American Progress Doing What Works that will examine paths for improving government performance and foster increased (reasons for) public confidence in government.  He spoke to perspectives on the role of government and provided some thoughts from the Department of Energy.

  • “Many people think that the best thing that government can do is get out of the way and let business do their thing.  I disagree with that … there are market failures.  International fishing is a market failure. 97% of the fish that we like to eat, like tuna, are gone. That is a market failure. Energy and climate are a market failure …”
  • “Demand for a certain commodity, oil, drives oil companies to go into more risky environments in a way that I didn’t understand just a little while ago.  As our demand for oil drives them into these areas, the margin for error decreases for a number of reasons. Why? Well, for example, these are ever more remote and difficult areas, you can’t go out and touch the hole you’re drilling. The ability to control and monitor fracturing decreases … We’ve been doing this without thinking.  If we don’t stop and think aboutg what we’re doing, we could end up in deep water … literally.”

Secretary Chu made a recruiting appeal.

I can offer you a much lower salary, much more hassle, much less control over your life … but this is important … We need the very best of society to join the government.  If the very best aren’t willing to join, we’ll do the the best with what we have.

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Tags: Energy · Obama Administration · climate change · department of energy

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Energy Bookshelf: The power of invisible energy // Aug 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    [...] of the power of government regulation to drive reduced energy usage and save consumers money. As Secretary of Energy Steve Chu discussed the other day, writing regulation and setting standards are (without exception) the lowest cost move with the [...]

  • 2 Energy Bookshelf: A power hungry gushing of lies // Aug 17, 2010 at 12:49 am

    [...] of the power of government regulation to drive reduced energy usage and save consumers money. As Secretary of Energy Steve Chu discussed the other day, writing regulation and setting standards are (without exception) the lowest cost move with the [...]

  • 3 Facing a Sputnik moment? // Nov 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

    [...] “Forcing people to save is a cost that I am willing to bear.” [...]

  • 4 Citizens Against Government Waste Promotes Wasteful Citizenry // Dec 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    [...] voice far more worthwhile to listen to on this: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Secretary Chu has made it clear that advancing regulations and standards is perhaps the most cost ef…. And, he has been on the receiving end of much criticism for such standard setting. This, however, [...]

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