Former Colorado senator Tim Wirth, who moderated the National Clean Energy Project conference recently in Washington, D.C., asked former President Bill Clinton why it has taken so long for the White House to make new energy a priority. “We never had the votes before,” Mr. Clinton replied, adding that the time to do it is now, lest national security be compromised, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While former Vice President Al Gore was a bit more pessimistic about whether Americans are ready to break their addiction to oil, the nation’s new energy secretary, Steven Chu, told the The Los Angeles Times all about transistors. Federal funds, he says, should go toward the same kind of quantum-mechanics thinking when it comes to developing renewable energy technology.

Robert McGrath, a deputy lab director at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, agrees, as do businesses hoping to cash in.