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Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration


Sen. Salazar. The next Interior secretary?

What does the apparent pick of U.S. Senator Ken Salazar for Interior secretary in the Obama administration mean for public lands management? Well, surely it can't be worse than what's transpired the past eight years, can it?

(I say "apparent" pick because the nomination hasn't been officially announced. Rather, the senator's name was "leaked" to the press, surely to generate some media mojo for the administration.)

Some are despairing over the Colorado Democrat's selection, wishing instead that Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva would have gained the nod. Others are relatively happy, noting that there were lesser names in the mix, folks who might have done public lands management worse than Sen. Salazar might.

As I noted in a comment elsewhere on the Traveler, the senator comes with pluses and minuses. He was among the senators who supported a rule change to allow concealed weapons permit holders to pack in national parks and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges. Does Sen. Salazar really believe that's proper, or did he take that stance merely to garner home-state support? We won't know until we see whether the Obama administration moves to rescind the rule change.

As for pluses, as director of Colorado's DNR Mr. Salazar "authored the Great Outdoors Colorado Amendment, which created a massive land conservation program of which he became chairman. Salazar also created the Youth in Natural Resources program to provide for environmental education in public schools. In his cabinet role, he established reforms that forced mining and oil operations to better protect the surrounding environment."

He also was the first Senate Democrat to speak out against Paul Hoffman's handiwork with the Management Policies and he cosponsored legislation to fund the NPS centennial.

But then, as another commenter who read the senator's Wikipedia entry noted:

As Colorado's Attorney General, Salazar actively opposed endangered species listing of the black-tailed prairie dog, which, despite its population declines, is still listed as a "pest" by Colorado.[2]

In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, a vote that the League of Conservation Voters notes is anti-environment. In the same year, Salazar voted against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major oil companies. [3]

In 2006, Salazar voted to end protections that limit off-shore drilling in Florida's Gulf Coast.[4]

In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the US Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects.[5]

According to Project Vote Smart, Ken Salazar received a 25% vote rating for 2007 by the Humane Society of the United States [6], a 0% vote rating for 2005-2006 for Fund for Animals [7], and a 60% vote rating for 2007 by Defenders of Wilderness [8].

And yet, Sen. Salazar has been cautious when it comes to tar sands and oil-shale exploration, something that could really impact parks in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

Representative Grijalva no doubt would have been a more outspoken Interior secretary, someone who would come into office with a well-drafted agenda, but is that always the best tack to take in politics? Does the new team in Washington need to swing far to the left after the past eight years of the Bush administration swinging far to the right, or is there a deserved call to be more moderate?

Over at the National Parks Conservation Association, which understandably doesn't want to get off on the wrong foot with the 53-year-old Mr. Salazar, President Tom Kiernan had this to say about the selection:

“Ken Salazar understands that our national parks are national treasures, and his strong, demonstrated commitment to these significant places foretells his success as Secretary of the Interior.

“Sen. Salazar has been an outstanding leader in national park protection in the U.S. Senate. He has championed the strengthening of the parks’ Management Policies, advocated to address the parks’ chronic funding needs, led the introduction of the National Park Centennial Challenge, and worked to harness the educational power of our national parks for our children and grandchildren. He has also championed appropriate expansion of the National Park System.

"Our national parks will be in great hands with Ken Salazar.”

No doubt if this nomination is officially tendered, and Mr. Salazar is confirmed, there will be much scrutiny on his actions in the months ahead. And I'll wager that there will be much to applaud, and more than a little to complain about.


He's just another government stooge. The Democrats were looking to run another candidate against him next election, and now it looks like they won't have to.

He is cautious about shale oil, but largely because of the water consumption it would require. Should technological advances change that, I'd bet we'd hear a different story from the senator.

On non-environment-related notes, Salazar is against adoption by gay couples. He voted to bailout Wall Street.

As far as the Second Amendment goes, \Kurt, I'd really like to send you a Christmas present: "The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins to the Right to Bear Arms". Too bad Salazar seems to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution he'll uphold and defend.

I sure love me some change.

At this point in the game, I'd say the NPCA is taking the right approach.

Assuming the Salazar nomination is confirmed, it's prudent for park supporters for set a positive tone in a relationship with the new Secretary (i.e. hope for the best, establish good lines of communication, and then monitor results.) There's absolutely nothing to be gained - and a lot to be lost - by negative statements about any new appointee until we see what he'll actually do once on the job.

Ah, yes. This is the "go along, get along" philosophy of those in power in the NPS. Heave forbid we examine the voting record and actions of political appointees and make critical statements about them.

"The defects of every as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out." --Thomas Paine

I'll accept "stooge" as an alternative spelling of "Representative" ... and not a bad one at that! I don't care to whom an Official genuflects in private, so long as he remembers the actual voting-records that got him where he is. "Stooge THIS, Buddy!"

The government is self-serving, as are the politicos ... but if either of them actually had a definitive level of control, the outcome of the 2008 Campaign would have been much different. Etceteras, etc.

A lot can really be told, but is seldom looked directly at - in the history of the Green Party in Europe, and the non-history of the Green Party in North America, et al. At best, they were a faddish contender: now, a minor, verging to unknown used-to-was.

This isn't about the iron grip of government on America, nor the depravity of politics (the inimitable Blagojevich notwithstanding), but rather establishing a plausible Representation of the citizenship.

"We" were never shining, pure, saturated Green (National Parks Traveler notwithstanding) ... else Greenpeace would be sitting on the Cabinet, if not the Big Chair. No, we are at best a dingy olive-drab. Emphasis on the drab ... a good bit like the shade of Ken Salazar, eh?

Hail, Drab! ;-)


Having a keen interest in history, this does sound like an interesting book. I still think you should read the SCOTUS's ruling, though.

Ted, isn't drab trendy these daze?

Oh yes, Kurt, drab is way in. Try #90948a!

On jeans/slacks, bras, automobiles; oh yes.

Cabinet officials - absolutely!

Ted, not to get off topic -- hell, yes, to get off topic -- how were your travels in the great white north? Any tales to tell?

This backs up my prediction that a lot of environmentalists would be very unhappy with the pick of Salazar - from NPR - .

As for NPCA, they and the big NGOs play the game. That's how you play the game.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

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