Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Salazar Pick at Interior Has Energy Implications

President-elect Barack Obama is set to name Democratic Colorado Senator Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department. Normally considered a second-tier cabinet post, the Interior Secretary will be a major player in the national energy debate as he decides when and where oil and gas exploration and drilling can occur on federal lands, including offshore.

He's got a reputation as a renewable energy guy and has reached across the aisle before to broker compromises, most famously as a member of the Group fo 16 that tried to barter increased offshore drilling for more spending on low-carbon technology. But he also has been a thorn in the sides of oil companies, trying to get several of the majors to retrade deals on oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico that are seen as too favorable to industry.

On another note, Obama also is set to name former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to head the Agriculture Department. Vilsack is from Iowa so he's a big-time ethanol supporter so we'll have to see how that plays out.

For more on Salazar, check out Ian Talley's piece in the Wall Street Journal: