So it looks like President-elect Obama is going to name his energy and environment team next week. Among the purported choices is Nobel-winning physicist Steven Chu to lead the Department of Energy. One of the questions on our minds is how will he handle nuclear energy policy.
It is impossible to judge whether he’ll make a good secretary of energy. He certainly has the technical background to know fission from fusion. But knowing the difference between cracking atoms and crashing them does not make a good energy secretary. The job will be to articulate and execute the policy vision set forth by President Obama. It is to be more of a manager and leader than a smarty-pants. After all, the law of comparative advantage says Dr. Chu might be better suited for a lab than the hot seat in the DOE offices.
So where will Dr. Chu come down? We can’t tell. But we won’t hold it against him that he comes from a lab background. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll want DOE to research and develop everything. Surely he’ll want to commercialize things, won’t he? He must know, like all good things, that DOE research programs come to an end,right? Continue reading . .