Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Environmentalists Wary of Interior Pick

This is one reason why Obama is doing so well: independent picks. Nice tie, I do declare.

Salazar will inherit an agency demoralized by years of scandal, political interference and mismanagement.

Clinton's Interior Secretary was Bruce Babbitt. His successor was Gale Norton; hers Dirk Kempthorne.

He must deal with the sharp tension between those who seek to exploit public lands for energy, minerals and recreation and those who want to preserve the lands. He will be expected to restore scientific integrity to a department where it has repeatedly been compromised. He will be responsible for ending the department’s coziness with the industries it regulates. And he will have to work hard to overcome skepticism among many environmentalists about his views on resource and wildlife issues.

He'll have a full in-box, that's for sure.

One senior Interior Department executive described the job Mr. Salazar has been chosen for as “the booby prize of the Cabinet.”

Quite a challenge he took on. But surely he wanted the job.

As Mr. Obama introduced Mr. Salazar and Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor tapped to be secretary of agriculture, at a press conference Wednesday in Chicago, he said their responsibility would be to balance the protection of farms and public lands against the need to find new sources of energy.

I like how Obama has paired up appointments for related positions.

Mr. Salazar, wearing his customary ten-gallon hat and string tie, said that his job entails helping the nation address climate change through a “moon shot” on energy independence. But that would include not just the development of “green” energy sources like wind power, but also the continued domestic development of coal, oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases when they are burned.

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