Chu Strikes Back: America Can’t Just Invent Clean Energy Technologies, “We Have to Make Them and Use Them Too”

On Saturday, our Nobel prize-winning Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, slammed those who want to gut clean energy programs:

Chu dismissed criticism from those who he said “are ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat.”

The United States faces a choice, he said, to sit on the sidelines or try to win the “clean energy race” with China, Germany and other countries.

He said the U.S. “can’t afford not to” invest in clean energy.

“It’s not enough for our country to invent clean energy technologies, we have to make them and use them, too,” Chu said. “Invented in America, made in America and sold around the world. That’s how we’ll create good jobs and lead in the 21st century.”

Chu was speaking at the Solar Decathlon where collegiate teams from around the world compete to build model solar homes. He didn’t mention the over-hyped Solyndra story by name, but he defended the tremendous value the loan program brings to Americans:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said a stimulus law program that expired Friday will help develop the world’s largest wind farm in Oregon, several large solar power farms in California and Nevada, and the installation of solar panels on 750 rooftops in 28 states, among other projects.

Greenwire (subs. req’d) reports that DOE has “closed 28 loans for a total of more than $16 billion” under the loan program:

“These loan guarantee projects will generate enough clean electricity to power more than two-and-a-half-million homes,” Chu said. “And combined with our other loan programs, they’re expected to support more than 60,000 direct jobs, plus jobs throughout the supply chain”….

“In past times of national stress, we took the long view and invested in our future,” Chu said. “We need to take the long view and invest in the future. That’s what made America great, and that’s how we will prevail.”

It’s great to see Chu defending this core job-creating, pollution-reducing strategy. Unlike many in Washington, he seems to understand both what this country needs and what the American people want.

As Climate Progress reported last week, a major bipartisan public opinion survey found:

In dozens of focus groups we have conducted this month across the country on a wide variety of subjects, when voters are asked where they would like new jobs in their state to come from, the first words out of their mouths are almost always the same — clean energy and related technology. Voters believe that the clean energy economy is here and is growing, and they want their state to have a part of it.