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Energy secretary walks back '08 statement on gas prices

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu yesterday said he no longer believes in increasing gas prices to help spur research in alternatives to fossil fuels.

When questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing about his past statement, which he gave four years ago, Chu said: "Since I walked in the door as secretary of Energy, I’ve been doing everything in my powers to do what we can ... as we see these gas prices spike, to reduce those prices." 

He continued, "But in the Department of Energy's tool chest, the most important thing we are doing is to offload the dependency on oil, using natural gas for transportation, bio fuels and all of those things."

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2008, before becoming Energy secretary, Chu had said: "Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."  

Yet yesterday, Chu stated: "The president and I, yes we do acknowledge and feel the pain of not only American consumers but American businesses when these prices increase."

And when asked by Lee if he no longer believes that "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline," Chu responded, "I no longer share that view."

In yesterday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to Chu’s walking back his 2008 statement on gas prices.

"I know that it's part of the fun for folks to find these quotes and suggest that they have some deeper meaning, and maybe that would be the case on Day One of the presidency. But we're in the fourth year of the presidency, and this president has a very clear record."