Salazar defends pulling oil-lease parcels in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is defending his decision to scrap an oil-lease sale in Utah even though an internal investigation found nothing improper about an auction held in the final days of the Bush administration.

Salazar spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told The Associated Press today that Salazar acknowledges the report found no evidence of pressure on federal employees to speed up a sale of drilling parcels near Utah’s national parks.

Barkoff says the new findings from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General have no bearing on Salazar’s decision to scrap 77 of the leases months after taking office.

Those parcels were already being held up by a federal judge and Salazar has said he only wanted to take a “fresh look” at the parcels before deciding whether to release them.



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