Energy Secretary Steven Chu will step down soon, possibly by the end of the month, he said in a statement on Friday, ending a four-year tenure in which he concentrated on fostering research and development of clean energy technologies, and opponents pilloried him over stimulus loans that went bad.
His departure will add to a constellation of vacancies at the top of related agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Transportation Department and the Interior Department.
President Obama said in a statement that Dr. Chu “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.” He praised Dr. Chu for expanded support of research into “groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future.”
Dr. Chu presided over a surge in expenditures in which the Obama administration tried to use the Energy Department to stimulate the economy and advance both energy efficiency and clean energy production. Dr. Chu said that some of the money would be used to “swing for the fences,” promoting a variety of ventures, of which some were certain to fail. But the successes would more than compensate for the failures, he said, especially in research and development, where breakthroughs could nurture new industries.