Berkeley’s Steven Chu resigning from cabinet

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced he’ll resign from President Barack Obama’s cabinet as soon as a successor is confirmed.

Chu, 64, is a Bay Area local: a former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology. Earlier, he taught at Stanford.

“Serving as Secretary of Energy during such a momentous and important time has been incredibly demanding but enormously rewarding,” he wrote in a letter to department employees today. “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.”

From President Obama:

“I want to thank Secretary Chu for his dedicated service on behalf of the American people. As a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Steve brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy. 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. Thanks to Steve, we also expanded support for our brightest engineers and entrepreneurs as they pursue groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future. I am grateful that Steve agreed to join in my Cabinet and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Secretary Chu is a brilliant man who understands the importance of addressing the threat posed by climate change and has helped put America on a path toward energy independence and a clean energy future.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    The brilliant Mr Chu will be fondly remembered by Solyndra executives.

  • bbox231

    His picture will do well right along side Paulson – Kashkari et al who will be fondly remembered by Goldman executives – – – as well as a long list of many others.

  • GV Haste

    I’d be concerned if Barbara Boxer said I was brilliant.
    That would indicate I was way off track on some issue.

  • JohnW

    One can be an ardent climate change denier and disagree with policies the good professor has championed as Energy Secretary but still acknowledge that he is truly brilliant, as Boxer states. They don’t hand out the Nobel Prize in Physics to dummies.

    In the Bay Area, there is the 70ish Dr. Bill Wattenburg — scientist, engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, radio talk show host. His conservative and often simple-minded and ill-informed political views drive me crazy. But I would never deny his brilliance in his numerous fields of expertise.

  • Elwood

    “They don’t hand out the Nobel Prize in Physics to dummies.”

    Well, I don’t know much about physics, but they gave one to Obama and Gore.


  • bbox231

    “…in PHYSICS..”

    Dont know much about physics . . . . or the english language.

  • Elwood

    @ Bbox 231 #6

    Thank you so much for the lesson in semantics. I’ve found that critics of spelling, semantics and grammar criticize because they have nothing to say.

    In other words, nobody loves a smart ass.

  • JohnW

    Unlike the Peace Prize, which is political in nature, the Physics award is based on achieving a major scientific breakthrough.

    Gore earned his Peace Prize. Obama didn’t, as he was the among the first to acknowledge, including during his acceptance speech. He used the occasion of that speech to eloquently say some things about the facts of life that the Nobel committee probably didn’t expect or want to hear. Because it is generally thought that they awarded the prize in hopes of steering him toward a less bellicose foreign policy than that pursued by Bush. His speech wasn’t exactly reassuring to them:

    “As the head of state sworn to defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples (MLK and Gandhi) alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake; evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have stopped Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

  • bbox231

    #7 – pay close attention to that first sentence in #8. If the distinction between a Nobel in physics and a Nobel Peace prize is your version of “semantics” . . . . good luck with that.

    Grammer and spelling were nowhere in the original point so, not sure where the heck *that* came from except out of another (not so) smart ass.

  • JohnW

    Re: #9 Bbox231

    Those who choose to veer from the topic at hand and instead opine on somebody else’s knowledge of language, as in #6 and #9, would do well to remember that English is capitalized, to correctly spell grammar and to avoid gratuitous quote marks.

    Just sayin’.

  • bbox231

    Oh goodness. . . did I suggest that *I* was the sharpest tool in this shed?

    Certainly there are loads smarter than I and JohnW is a wonderful example.

    It is curious, however, that JohnW feels a need to rally to the defense of our friend Elwood.

    And, what was the original “topic at hand” JohnW?

    Just askin’.

  • Elwood

    Now I’m wondering if Bbox231 isn’t just another sock puppet of the lovely and charming Truthclubber, like Alcoahead.

  • JohnW

    Re: #12

    Haley’s Comet flies by Earth every 75 years. With similar frequency, Elwood and I inadvertently see eye-to-eye on something,

    As for the question of the “original topic at hand,” I believe it had something to do with the outgoing Secretary of Energy, about whom some of us have a difference of opinion.

    Thus concludes my commenting on this particular thread. Over and out!

  • Alcoahead

    @12 and @13 —

    Wish I could grant your paranoid fantasies, but, no, “Bbox231” and I have nothing in common, except a shared distain for arrogant self-delusionism as exhibited often by folks like yourselves who deem it fit to pontificate, ad nauseum, on whatever the “topic at hand” seems to be, no matter the hour of the day (or night).

    Sad news for youse two: You’ve attracted a whole new slew of “critics” (aka flies) for youse to swat at…and we know what kind of material (B)e(S)t attracts flies, don’t we?

  • Josh Richman

    And this seems a good point at which to remind everyone of the rules here: Everyone is welcome – nay, encouraged! – to pontificate on the topic at hand. That is, in fact, what the comment function is for. But when you cross the line into ad hominem attacks upon or taunting of your fellow commenters, you will be warned; if you persist, your comments may be deleted; and if you still persist, you’ll be consigned to the spam filter of history.

    So remember the prime directive, one and all: Say your piece, but don’t be a dick.