Chu: Science background has helped in political realm

“Ultimately, it goes into a political realm, and yes, you have to be cognizant of that, but I think having technical knowledge doesn’t actually disqualify you from introducing that scientific, technological input. And it should be a necessary part of the national dialogue,” Chu said.

The recent fiscal year 2011 spending deal included cuts to several Energy Department programs but spared renewable energy project loan guarantees in the pipeline and included $180 million for the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a priority program for Chu.

Looking ahead, the White House is seeking to expand spending on green-energy programs at a time when Republicans are pushing sharp cuts.

Chu struck a rather optimistic note. Returning to one of his most common themes, Chu said it’s economically vital the United States makes the investments needed to seize a leading position in energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.

“I think there are people on both sides of the aisle who recognize that this is America’s future at stake. This is America’s prosperity at stake,” Chu said.