Confirming rumors that have been circulating for months, Energy Secretary Steven Chu Friday said he will not serve a second term in the Obama administration.

His announcement follows those of other key energy and environment officials who plan to exit as well: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson.

“I informed the president of my decision a few days after the election that [my wife] 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,” he said.

In a letter to department employees, Chu announced his decision to leave and highlighted some of the progress made while serving in the Obama administration, including the formation of the $45 million inter-agency effort last year by the Interior Department, Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA to research hydraulic fracturing (fracking) during fiscal 2013.

The intent of continued research by DOE and other agencies into fracking is to “drive the technology development forward,” Chu told a Senate hearing in February 2012.

He also cited DOE’s role in capping BP plc’s blown Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. “The president personally tasked me to help BP stop the massive oil leak [that] resulted from the Deepwater Horizon disaster [see Daily GPI, April 22, 2010]. Beginning with a small team of scientists and engineers that worked many long hours each day for three very intense months, we assessed the damage to the blowout preventer and significantly mitigated many risks in the effort to cap, seal and ultimately kill the runaway well.”

Salazar, who oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill and the restructuring of the agency, will step down in March (see Daily GPI, Jan. 17).

Jackson said she will resign as head of the EPA after the president’s State of the Union speech on Feb. 12, bringing to an end a sometimes tumultuous four-year tenure (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28).

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