Ever since Election Day, we have suspected Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar was in the running to become the next secretary of interior. With his administrative and political experience, and his rural Western roots, Salazar just seemed to make sense.
President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team apparently agreed. Monday, word leaked from the Obama team that Salazar will receive the nomination later this week.
Raised in a San Luis Valley ranching family, Salazar served as head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from 1990 to 1994, overseeing wildlife, state parks and other Colorado resources. Salazar was elected state attorney general in 1998, and in that capacity worked on critical natural-resource issues such as the multi-state Colorado River
Compact and the cleanup of the Summitville Mine in south-central Colorado.
Few people can match the breadth of Salazar’s administrative and legal experience regarding natural resource issues. He has added to that with national political experience since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
We haven’t always agreed with Salazar’s Senate actions, but we recognize he has been a leader on many issues. He has challenged the Bush administration on its plans to accelerate commercial oil shale development, and on gas drilling on the Roan Plateau. He has also worked to forge an agreement that could lead to special protection for Dominguez-Escalante Canyons area south of Grand Junction. And, some of the most liberal environmental
organizations are reportedly upset that he will be nominated.
Salazar was also part of the Gang of 14, that untangled a logjam with President Bush’s judicial appointments a few years back.
Additionally, Salazar was one of 47 Senators who signed a letter supporting the ability of people with concealed-carry permits to legally bring guns into national parks — a measure the Bush administration has just approved. That should make for some interesting questions during Salazar’s confirmation hearings.
That issue aside, we suspect Ken Salazar will be confirmed quickly by his fellow senators. He is well respected by his colleagues, and no one can argue he is unqualified.