The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is a collection of buildings on a large campus just south of Pittsburgh. The work done there includes research and development on energy and the environment. On Wednesday, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy for the Department of Energy, Christopher Smith, visited the labs. A lot of research surrounds technologies for developing coal and natural gas, both of which draw much criticism from environmental groups. Smith said NETL works to further the goal of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
“His mandate is to ensure that science leads, that we take a scientific approach to quantifying the risks that communities are concerned about, that we take all concerns seriously, and that the rules that are in place are mitigating the risks that we scientifically quantified.”
At the same time, work is being done to develop renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. Smith said the country’s energy future will depend on an “all of the above” approach to energy development.
“We’re focused very broadly on ensuring that we’re creating the maximum number of technological pathways for creating energy security for American businesses and American families,” he said, “we’re not picking a single path, we have to make sure that we’re taking care of all of the options that are available to us.
Smith visited Pittsburgh to tour NETL and talk with scientists. He called the facility unique, as it’s government owned and government operated, whereas similar facilities are often operated through contract. About 1,200 people work at Pittsburgh NETL facility, which Smith said is a key resource for fossil energy research. Other NETL research labs are in Morgantown, WV and Albany, OR.