Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu is stepping down, following several other key energy and environmental officials, including 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. Chu in a letter to his employees highlighted some of the progress made while serving in the administration, including forming a $45 million inter-agency effort last year by Interior, DOE and EPA o research hydraulic fracturing (fracking) during fiscal 2013. He also cited DOE’s role in capping BP plc’s blown Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. 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 NGI, Jan. 21). Jackson resigning following President Obama‘s State of the Union speech on Feb. 12, bringing to an end a sometimes tumultuous four-year tenure (see NGI, Jan. 7).

Ray LaHood, who made pipeline safety a priority during his four years with the Obama administration, is resigning as secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) once a successor is confirmed. During the past four years, “we have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows,” he said. LaHood was named transportation secretary in January 2009. According to The Washington Post, those mentioned as possible successors to LaHood include Deborah Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board; former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; James Oberstar, a former Minnesota congressman who once chaired the House transportation committee; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

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