Environment & Public Lands
1:41 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Salazar to Step Down as Interior Secretary

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President Barack Obama will have to find a replacement for the Secretary of the Interior in his second term. Ken Salazar is planning to leave the job in March.  

Salazar was a U.S. Senator from Colorado when President Obama asked him to take the reins of the department that runs America's national parks, manages millions of acres of public land and oversees Native American interests.  David Nimkin of the National Parks Conservation Association says funding for national parks has lagged during Salazar's tenure, but he's done a good job at Interior in many areas, including finding a new approach to oil and gas leasing in the West.

"Planning first, leasing later," Nimkin explains, "a way to sort of evaluate in advance where oil and gas leasing would be appropriate [and] avoid many of the pitfalls that have often been exaggerated as oil and gas leases have been sold."

Tim Wigley, who heads the drilling industry trade group Western Energy Alliance, says Salazar's management under President Obama has led to a decline in oil and gas production on public land and he doesn't expect that to change, whoever the next Interior Secretary turns out to be.