DoE Secretary Chu: Gas Prices Hurt, But Oil Dependency Worse

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Dr. Steven Chu

Dr. Steven Chu

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Unless you don’t drive a gasoline-powered car, the chances are you’ve noticed the spike in gasoline prices lately. 

But according to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu,  the U.S. Department of Energy isn’t about to intervene with a knee-jerk reaction designed to immediately drop gasoline prices. 

Instead, Politico.com reports,  the DoE is focusing on a longer-term strategy that both lowers energy prices and reduces the dependence on oil-based fuels. 

“We agree that there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases in the United States and so we are very concerned about this,” Chu told the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. “As I have repeatedly said, in the Department of Energy, what we’re trying to do is diversify our energy supply for transportation so that we have cost-effective means.”

Under pressure from Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), who blamed the current administration for the doubling of gasoline prices over the past term, Chu continued to outline the DoE’s long-term goals. 

Gas prices

Gas prices

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“The overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” he explained. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”

The rising price of oil, Chu said, would help expedite the development  and adoption of alternative energy transport solutions.

Among them, Chu highlighted the developments of Evnia Systems -- whose breakthrough battery technology promises to revolutionize the range and cost of plug-in vehicles -- as well as research being undertaken by the DoE to reduce the cost of compressed natural gas tanks for vehicles. 

As for rising gas prices? After the subcommittee ended, a spokesperson for the DoE confirmed to Politico that the DoE is working with the International Energy Agency to monitor global oil supply and prices. 

The DoE has also confirmed tapping the U.S’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve to provide immediate gas price relief has not been ruled out yet. 

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