Well, maybe "backs" is too strong a word. Let's just say that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is not openly critical of the Obama administration's hard look at the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would bring oil from the tar sands in northern Alberta across the border and deep into the United States.
Chu, who has been an ardent and vocal supporter of electric cars, advanced batteries and other more sustainable modes of transportation that will ween us off fossil fuels, recently called the Obama administration's backing of the controversial pipeline a "tradeoff," delicately addressing the topic in an interview with energyNOW! (see video below).
"Well, I think it's one of those decisions where... you're going to have to trade off a reliable supply," Secreatary Chu said. Noting that while the companies working to extract oil from the tar sands have made important strides in cleaning up their operations, Chu said, "it's not perfect, but it's a trade-off."
The proposed project, which has come under sharp fire from environmentalists, is not under the regulatory purview of the Energy Department. Instead, the project is awaiting final word from the State Department, which has the decision-making authority on the international pipeline. The State Department has already given the project a positive environmental impact statement and is now in the midst of a 90-day period to review whether the pipeline is in the nation's best interest.
So what will Secretary Chu do as his colleague Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes the lead in this important energy decision?
He says he's sticking with his bread and butter by focusing on batteries for electric vehicles, biofuels, energy efficiency.