Chu: Green Needs Government Support

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Industrial subsidies are as American as apple pie.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, fresh from the budget standoff inWashington D.C., outlined how the U.S. government historically has usedits heft to jumpstart new industries by sponsoring research or assumingunderlying infrastructure costs at the Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech Conference in San Francisco. Now, that same heft should be flexed now to help the U.S. build a greentech industry  before it’s too late.

"What made America great was the interplay between the government andthe policies it set and businesses." he said. "Every country in theworld has read our playbook. State-sponsored research is the road toprosperity. It is good to remind people what happened."

Some examples:

–In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln established theNational Academy of Sciences. He also signed a bill to that gave land,access rights and cash to private companies to build a transcontinentalrailroad.

–Bike mechanics Wilbur and Orville Wright might have invented theairplane, but Europe quickly took over the nascent aeronautics industry. To remedy the situation, Congress created the National AdvisoryCommittee on Aeronautics to help. Then in 1925, it passed the KellyAirmail Act, which allowed private airlines to carry mail for the postoffice.

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