Chu on oil trading rules: ‘I’m just a physicist’

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Friday gave a rather vague endorsement of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission proposal to limit energy market speculation but acknowledged he’s no expert on the matter.

The CFTC on Thursday floated draft rules that would place a ceiling on the number of oil and natural gas futures contracts that traders may hold. Chu, asked about the proposal, said he sees the logic in it and that wild swings in energy prices are harmful.

“The way things are being traded now and the great huge volumes does, from just a physicist looking at it, completely amateur, I could see how it . . . could make things more volatile,” he said at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters. But he added, “I can’t comment on the downsides.”

“Hey look, I’m just a physicist trying to, you know, decrease the carbon emissions of the world,” Chu said. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics.