U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the Interior Department, will face fellow senators on the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy today. He is expected to field questions about how he’d right the department, which oversees parks, endangered species, and oil permits on public lands.
The Interior has seen scandal under the Bush administration, and many environmentalists view the department as beholden to oil and gas interests, according toÂ The Associated Press, which predicts a “rosy” reception for Salazar. TheÂ Rocky Mountain News adds that the San Luis Valley Democrat is a far less controversial candidate among activist-environmentalists than was another Coloradan in the same post–Republican Gale Norton–earlier this decade.
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Still, as environment reporter JoshuaÂ Zaffos recently wrote forÂ 5280.com, Salazar is “neither aÂ pure green crusader nor an industry lapdog.” (Also check out 5280’s ultimate backgrounder on Salazar, “No MÃ¡s Mustache,” by executive editor Maximillian Potter.) Meanwhile, Salazar’s selected replacement for Senate, former Denver Public Schools chief Michael Bennet, wasn’t very popular in the e-mails Governor Bill Ritter received prior to making the appointment, notesÂ The Denver Post.