When U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu resigned on Friday, he singled out for praise a former governor who has worked to clean up nuclear waste, a move that raised Christine Gregoires' profile as a possibility for the Obama administration's energy and climate team.

Chu lauded Gregoire, a Democrat who served as governor of Washington state from 2005 until mid-January and is long-time backer of President Barack Obama.

"I am especially appreciative of Governor Gregoire for her trust and support over the past six months," Chu said in a lengthy resignation letter on Friday.

Chu worked with Gregoire on the clean-up of the Hanford site in Washington, one of the U.S. nuclear weapons development facilities.

Sources close to Gregoire say she has been vetted by the White House as a possible choice for a number of posts, including energy secretary, interior secretary and Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

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