Outgoing and embattled Energy Secretary Steven Chu was chosen by President Obama on Tuesday night as the "designated successor" — the person in the Cabinet who does not attend the State of the Union address.
Mr. Chu, who has announced his departure, was to stay away from the Capitol in the event that a catastrophe stuck the site of the president's speech and all other government officials were incapacitated.
In that unlikely event, Mr. Chu would take control of the government temporarily.
The energy secretary is leaving after four years plagued by his role in the Solyndra solar-energy fiasco, in which the firm went bankrupt after the administration rushed ahead with more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees for the firm.
Mr. Obama has not chosen his successor at Energy.
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