Chu: Focus Needed on Alternative Energy


"Secretary Steven Chu tacitly approves latest offshore drilling ban."

Energy Secretary Steven Chu Thursday gave tacit approval to the Obama administration's latest ban on offshore drilling, while stressing the need to explore and develop alternative sources of energy.

Chu, appearing on CNBC, wouldn't comment explicit on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement Wednesday that offshore oil drilling would not be permitted in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Chu, however, said the decision amplifies the need to "look for alternative forms, other than it [oil] for our transportation needs."

At the same time, he acknowledged that "oil is going to be with for the next coming decades."

The five-year Salazar ban effectively reverses positions announced by President Obama in March.

Obama administration policy has been somewhat fluid in the wake of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf last spring.

Chu declined to comment on a proposal by the president's budget deficit commission to add $0.15 to the federal gasoline tax.

The "long term prospects are that it [the price of gas] will be going up," said Chu, adding, once again, that it was motivation to "focus on alternative forms" of energy.

Crude oil prices, which traded flat Thursday, have been stuck in a $80-$90-a-barrel range for much of the year.

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