Accompanying the exits of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA Chief Lisa Jackson, it looks like President Obama is going for a full-on overhaul of his energy team, announcing Friday that a new Secretary of Energy is joining the list of Cabinet posts that need filling:
Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be leaving his post, the White House confirmed Friday, exiting the administration at the start of President Obama’s second term after a rocky tenure.
In his resignation letter, Chu said he intend to stay on board “past the end of February” to help the department find his successor.
Chu’s leadership has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans who questioned his controversial support for and handling of a $528 million federal loan to solar panel maker Solyndra before the company filed for bankruptcy.
But come on, now — it’s certainly not just Solyndra that Republicans are complaining about. Solyndra was just the poster child of the Obama administration’s much-vaunted green energy loan guarantee program, so it appropriately became the poster child of a dozens-long list of ‘green’ companies that received taxpayer funds and are now either ailing or failing, as is wont to happen when the government tries to pick marketplace winners and losers of its own accord:
- Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
- SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
- Solyndra ($535 million)*
- Beacon Power ($43 million)*
- Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
- SunPower ($1.2 billion)
- First Solar ($1.46 billion)
- Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
- EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
- Amonix ($5.9 million)
- Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
- Abound Solar ($400 million)*
- A123 Systems ($279 million)*…
And etcetera. Of course, the White House was full of nothing but praise for Chu and his many “accomplishments”:
“During his time as Secretary, Steve helped my administration move America towards real energy independence,” Obama said. “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.” …
In a letter to Energy Department employees, Chu said he was proud of his tenure and cited dozens of accomplishments, including doubling the production of renewable energy from wind and solar power. Installations of small solar electric, or photovoltaic, systems have nearly doubled in each of the last three years, he said, while fully 42 percent of new energy capacity in the U.S. last year was from wind — more than any other energy source, Chu said.
Funny — I’d say that Chu helped us play Green-Energy Monopoly with what they pretended was fake money while the oil-and-gas industry actually helped to move us closer to real energy independence, but agree to disagree. (And that statistic about wind that Chu throws out there is highly misleading, by the way — it’s easy for wind to comprise 42 percent of new energy capacity when every single outstanding project is rushing to get grandfathered in to the very generous federal wind production tax credit).
No word yet on a definite choice for a successor, but I wouldn’t envy being in his or her shoes for a confirmation hearing, what with President Obama’s born-again climate-change championing on everyone’s radar.