Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is taking his trademark ten-gallon hat back to Colorado, formally announcing this morning that he will step down in March.
“Colorado is and will always be my home. I look forward to returning to my family and Colorado after eight years in Washington, D.C.,” said Salazar. “I am forever grateful to President Obama for his friendship in the U.S. Senate and the opportunity he gave me to serve as a member of his cabinet during this historic presidency.”
“I have had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier, ushering in a conservation agenda for the 21st century, and honoring our word to the nation’s first Americans,” added Salazar. “I thank the more than 70,000 employees at the Department for their dedication to our mission as custodians of America’s natural and cultural resources. I look forward to helping my successor in a seamless transition in the months ahead.”
The announcement lauds Salazar for conservation efforts, promoting renewable energy, making “historic” strides in Indian Country, and “historic overhaul of Interior’s management of oil and gas resources.”
“We have undertaken the most aggressive oil and gas safety and reform agenda in U.S. history, raising the bar on offshore drilling safety, practices and technology and ensuring that energy development is done in the right way and in the right places,” said Salazar. “Today, drilling activity in the Gulf is surpassing levels seen before the spill, and our nation is on a promising path to energy independence.”
Lawmakers from oil and natural gas producing states have consistently criticized Salazar for throwing up historic barriers to production.
The Interior release also included a line with a most interesting word choice: “Under Secretary Salazar’s leadership, Interior has played a keystone role in developing a secure energy future for the United States, both for renewable and conventional energy.”
Salazar opposed the Keystone XL pipeline last March. “My concerns about the Keystone Pipeline are in line with the Obama Administration’s position on the issue. I feel that the President acted responsibly in rejecting the initial proposal on the grounds of environmental issues,” he said. “Until the guidelines for this project are significantly altered, the pipeline should not be constructed because of the potential risks it poses to the well being of US citizens.”
“In my 30 years serving Congress, I’ve never worked w/a better steward of natural resources than Ken Salazar
@Interior. I wish him the best,” tweeted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
President Obama issued a statement thanking Salazar for his four years of service.
“Ken has played an integral role in my Administration’s successful efforts to expand responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources,” Obama said. “In his work to promote renewable energy projects on our public lands and increase the development of oil and gas production, Ken has ensured that the Department’s decisions are driven by the best science and promote the highest safety standards.”
With the departure of Salazar, and the previously announced resignation of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Obama has no Latinos left in his cabinet.
UPDATE: One of those critical lawmakers says don’t let the door hit Salazar on the…
“I wish Ken Salazar, a Senate classmate, all the best. But I honestly won’t miss him as Interior Secretary,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said. “He supported the drilling moratorium overreaction to the BP disaster that cost us so many jobs. And he consistently made energy production on federal land and water far more difficult and costly, pushing federal lease revenue from $10 billion to $0 from 2008 to 2011.”