Interior Secretary Salazar to depart

January 16, 2013 | By TONY FRANCOIS

In December, a large coalition of environmental and other groups wrote to President Obama and urged him to replace Interior Secretary Salazar with Congressman Raul Gijalva (D – Arizona).  At the time, Salazar had not indicated a desire to depart the administration.  Since then, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has announced her departure, and today Secretary Salazar made it official.

One does not usually unearth gems of ironic prose in US government press releases, but in Salazar’s announcement you will find the following:

Under Secretary Salazar’s leadership, Interior has played a keystone role in developing a secure energy future for the United States (emphasis added).

Bemused observers will recall that Secretary Salazar opposed the Keystone Pipeline project.

Rumored replacements among the Democratic field include Montana’s recent governor Brian Schweitzer and Washington’s outgoing governor Christine Gregoire (also discussed as a potential successor to Jackson at EPA), as well as former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan.  Taken together with those rumored for the nomination to head EPA, these potential candidates seem to continue a bi-partisan trend of Easterners leading EPA (e.g. Christine Todd Whitman and Lisa Jackson, both from New Jersey) and Westerners leading Interior (e.g. Gail Norton and Ken Salazar, both from Colorado).  Of course, the tendancy is not completely uniform, given former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt‘s tenure as EPA Administrator following Whitman’s.