Earth Day Hero: Energy Secretary Steven Chu

Obama’s Secretary of Energy is just a regular guy who rides his bike to work like us. Oh, and he might change the world.

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This Earth Day, while you commit to recycling more often or doing whatever small part you can to make this planet a cleaner place, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is fighting the good fight in Washington, attempting to tackle the large energy problems while you handle the small ones (turn off that light!).

As the 13th Secretary of Energy, Chu’s got a bit of a crisis on his hands. In a country run by coal, he backs an agenda focusing on the expansion of clean energy. A Wall Street Journal article references a speech in which Chu called coal his “worst nightmare.” Chu favors solar power to traditional forms of energy. He’s worked with the Helios project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the project seeks to harness solar energy as a renewable transportation fuel. Chu has also espoused nuclear power. However, he’s also aware of his department’s concerns with nuclear waste and cleanup. He told the WSJ that “the waste and proliferation issues [surrounding nuclear power] still haven’t been completely solved.” According to a New York Times article, a car-less by choice Chu recently had to stop riding his bike to work, a favored mode of transportation, due to the government’s insistence on a motorized security detail.

I bring up this man’s name because he’s going to be instrumental to our energy policy over the next four years. Now that a proponent of sustainable energy holds this office, we might finally see a true governmental push to lowering our country’s dependence on destructive coal and international oil. Right now, there’s no talk of carbon tax, but has mentioned offering tax credits to consumers who employ sustainable energy, such as wind power. We’re only a few months into the Obama administration, but hopefully Chu will be able to set an agenda that will leave a legacy of renewable energy in the U.S.

Want to help promote renewable energy in your area? Get in touch with your elected officials and tell them to keep the options for clean energy alive! Check out’s page on the No Coal Call for that and other ways to make this Earth Day productive.

–Adrienne Saia Isaac

Questions for Steven Chu (NY Times)

Steven Chu’s Nobel Prize Autobiography