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Center for American Progress Action Fund

In a letter posted at the Department of Energy website, Secretary Steven Chu announces plans to resign his post.

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view. The power of our work is derived from this foundation. …

I came with dreams, and am leaving with a set of accomplishments that we should all be proud of. Those accomplishments are because of all your dedication and hard work. …

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While I will always remain dedicated to the missions of the Department, I informed the President of my decision a few days after the election that Jean and I were eager to return to California. I would like to return to an academic life of teaching and research, but will still work to advance the missions that we have been working on together for the last four years.

In the short term, I plan to stay on as Secretary past the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February. I may stay beyond that time so that I can leave the Department in the hands of the new Secretary.

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We’d previously mentioned that a Chu resignation was likely — but we didn’t mention how hard he’ll be hard to replace. This is a Nobel Prize winner who lamented that he couldn’t ride his bike to work once he ascended to the Cabinet. The resignation also means that all three major agencies that deal with energy and environmental issues — Energy, the EPA, Interior — will need a new head.

The Hill has more about Chu and potential replacements:

The 64-year-old, with White House support, backed a larger federal role in R&D and commercialization of renewable, energy efficiency and battery technologies.

But part of the effort — grants and loans to help specific green energy companies take flight — brought big political headaches for Chu and President Obama when a handful of them failed or struggled. …

The long list of potential nominees to replace Chu includes former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.); former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D); Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman; and Sue Tierney, a managing principal at the Analysis Group who was DOE’s assistant secretary for policy under President Clinton. …

Chu also focused on two programs that were authorized before his arrival but really got rolling under the current administration.

One was the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which funds so-called high-risk, high-reward research into breakthrough technologies. The agency was created in 2007 legislation but did not receive funding until 2009.

The other was the green technology loan guarantee program, which had not finalized support for any companies before Chu’s arrival.

More to come from us soon.