Solyndra architect Chu resigns from cabinet
Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced his resignation from the post to return with his wife back to California where he will continue his career as a teacher.
“The journey that I began with you four years ago will continue for many years,” Chu said in a multi-page departure letter to department employees. “I began my message talking about my vision of what I wanted to do with the department. Some of these goals have been realized, and we have planted many seeds together.”
Chu’s letter quoted inspiring words from Dr. Martin Luther King along with Chu’s own dreams and accomplishments. Missing from the 3000-word tome was any mention of the word “Solyndra” – the bankrupt solar panel company funded from Chu’s agency that became the poster child of misspent stimulus funds and green energy failures during the Obama administration.
“While many will remember Secretary Chu for his comments about the need to raise gas prices on American consumers and the high grades he publicly bestowed on himself, I found taxpayer losses on projects like Solyndra and the department’s deeply misguided effort to use taxpayer dollars as an investment bank for unproven technologies to be the most problematic aspects of his legacy,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Solyndra’s $535 million government guaranteed loan was the subject of an exhaustive investigation by Capitol Hill lawmakers and the target of numerous hearings.
A replacement for Chu has not been named, although the Associated Press is reporting that potential nominee’s include former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
President Barack Obama thanked Chu for his service and said he brought a unique understanding of the challenges presented by climate change to the administration.
“And during his time as secretary, Steve helped my administration move America towards real energy independence. Over the past four years, we have doubled the use of renewable energy, dramatically reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs,” Obama said.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, urged Obama to keep in mind the importance of safeguarding taxpayer dollars, as well as continuing the manufacturing revival spurred by stable natural gas supplies, when naming a successer.
“Certainly in terms of pure intellectual horsepower, Secretary Chu will be a tough act to follow,” Wyden said.