JANUARY 16, 2012 — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that he will return to his home state of Colorado, having fulfilled his promise to President Obama to serve four years as Secretary. Secretary Salazar has informed President Obama that he intends to leave the Department by the end of March.
One of the toughest challenges facing Secretary Salazar during his tenure at Interior was his handling of the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill. He split the former Minerals Management Service into three independent agencies with clear, independent missions to oversee ocean energy management and revenue collection. But he also imposed a moratorium on offshore drilling that many saw as being too sweeping and lasting too long.
Since then, says a department press release, Interior has "offered millions of acres offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for safe and responsible exploration and development and is proceeding with cautious exploration of Arctic 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 Secretary 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."
Secretary Salazar's term also saw the establishment of the department's first program for offshore wind leasing and permitting.