Interior Secretary-designate Ken Salazar says he’ll clean up one of the Bush administration’s “most deeply troubled departments,” in a prelude to what is anticipated to be a smooth-sailing confirmation vote for the U.S. senator as early as next week.

The Denver Post also writes that Salazar, decked out in a Western-cut suit, appeared before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources yesterday, envisioning a “hip new” Interior Department that focuses on wind farms and geothermal energy projects, while moving away from its nearly exclusive focus on fossil fuels. Salazar also plans to improve the department’s image, tarnished by a sex-and-drugs scandal last year.

Westword notes the hearing might have been tougher given all the challenges facing the department, including the status of endangered species and poverty on American Indian reservations. But that doesn’t mean the committee had all its questions answered.

According to The New York Times, Salazar avoided specifics when committee members pressed him on whether he supports expanding oil drilling offshore and on public lands.