Sec Chu goes on the offensive to help America win clean energy race

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Friday is scheduled to visit General Electric’s PrimeStar thin-film solar factory in Colorado, where he’ll stress the importance of the clean energy industry to America’s future and reaffirm his commitment to it.

It’s something Secretary Chu is wise to do. And it’s something the 2.7 million Americans who make their living in the country’s still-growing clean economy, the thousands of American clean energy companies that employ them and the investors who back them all need to hear.

Certainly, we weren’t hearing that kind of support for America’s clean energy industry in Washington on Thursday, where Chu testified for more than four hours before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee. You can read his testimony here.

The chairman of the subcommittee, Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, and other Republicans tried desperately to find some evidence of malfeasance by Chu and President Obama regarding the Solyndra failure. In the end, they found no wrongdoing. But that didn’t stop Stearns and others to call for Chu to resign anyway.

You may remember Stearns is the Sunshine State representative who recently said America should just give up on solar and cede the market to China. According to Stearns, we should just pay China for the solar panels and other products we need, instead of using American ingenuity and American workers to make them ourselves.

Talk about a jobs-killing clean energy agenda.

Fortunately, Chu and the rest of the Obama administration disagrees. They aren’t giving up on the most promising and important sector of our economy. As Chu said at Thursday’s hearing, the clean energy race is something we have to play to win. Hopefully, he’ll repeat those words in Colorado on Friday.

Americans are beyond frustrated with the gotcha politics of DC. But the efforts by Rep. Stearns and some of the other House Republicans to turn the Soyndra bankruptcy into a scandal is more dangerous than the usual.

American innovators and entrepreneurs have led the development of wind technology, solar technologies, better batteries and more efficient washing machines. And government loan guarantees and other federal support helped provide these American innovators and entrepreneurs the foundation they needed to get going just as they have for every other major technological revolution including railroads, cars, planes, and the internet. All of these technologies lead to a richer American and a better quality of life. The clean economy will do that too if we stop the Republicans in Congress from taking us backwards.

Just to make the Obama administration look bad, GOP leaders in Congress are threatening to end that national support of clean energy. In doing so, they’re also threatening to end the potential and promise of clean energy in America, and give up to China and other countries.

Like Secretary Chu, I and most Americans disagree. We know that America can still lead the world in the clean energy race. Faced with the choice to compete or concede defeat, we always rise to the challenge to compete.  We know that doing so is critical for our country’s future.

We only need members of Congress to quit playing politics, to quit trying to score political points, to quit doing the bidding of the fossil fuels industry, and support the development of clean energy that we all want and need.

We need members of Congress to stand for what they say they stand for:

American innovation, American jobs and a cleaner, brighter American future.