According to the New York Times , Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced his plans to resign from his position this March. The 57-year-old rancher from Colorado will be returning to his home state, but gave no indication of any further plans. Additionally, the Obama administration has not released any information on who could fill his position as department head. His announcement to leave comes shortly after Lisa Jackson, the current EPA Administrator, announced her own plans to step down and the likely resignation of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Here are some facts and details about Salazar's departure from the Department of the Interior, accomplishments and criticisms from his time in office, and what the future may hold for this federal agency:
* The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Salazar served as the department head for four years after serving four years in the U.S. Senate.
* He oversaw the management of over 500 million acres of land; 388 national parks, monuments, and beaches; and almost all energy projects on federal land and in federal waters.
* Under his service, the department established 10 new wildlife refuges and seven national parks and approved 34 renewable energy projects while also restricting oil and gas leasing regulations and banning uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.
* One of the most controversial times for Salazar was during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred following a rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, noted CNN .
* Following the oil spill disaster, he issued a six-month moratorium on drilling, a move that received major criticism from GOP leaders despite Salazar's vocal opinion on the importance of safe practices.
* Environmentalists also criticized him for his willingness to allow Shell Oil to drill off the coast of Alaska, reported the Los Angeles Times .
* Salazar oversaw the $3.4 billion legal settlement between the federal government and Native American tribes, the latter of which argued that the government had cheated them out of billions of dollars in assets managed by the Department of the Interior. The 15-year battle ended in 2009.
* According to a statement from the White House, President Obama praised Salazar: "I want to thank Ken for his hard work and leadership on behalf of the American people. As the Secretary of the Interior, Ken has helped usher in a new era of conservation for our nation's land, water, and wildlife. Ken has played an integral role in my Administration's successful efforts to expand responsible development of our nation's domestic energy resources."
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.