Interior Secretary Salazar to Quit Obama Cabinet

Salazar's resignation opens up a spot in Obama's new cabinet in a department with a huge mandate covering natural resources and oil reserves.

Photo Credit: AFP

WASHINGTON — US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who came to global prominence after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, gave notice Wednesday that he will not serve in President Barack Obama's second term.

Salazar will return to his native Colorado, opening up a spot in Obama's new cabinet in a department with a huge mandate covering natural resources and oil reserves which also oversees tribal and wildlife issues and national parks.

"Ken has played an integral role in my administration's successful efforts to expand responsible development of our nation's domestic energy resources," Obama said in a statement.

"In his work to promote renewable energy projects on our public lands and increase the development of oil and gas production, Ken has ensured that the department's decisions are driven by the best science and promote the highest safety standards," Obama said.

Salazar, a former Colorado senator who often wears a wide brimmed cowboy hat, shot to prominence outside the United States after the 2010 explosion in the Gulf sparked the largest oil spill in US history.

He pledged to "keep a boot on the neck" of BP, which operated the wellhead, during frantic efforts to plug a leak which sent millions of gallons of oil gushing into prime fishing grounds.

Salazar said in a resignation statement that he had since initiated the "most aggressive oil and gas safety and reform agenda in US history."

Obama is under pressure to add more diversity to his new cabinet after his picks for key jobs including the secretaries of Defense, State and Treasury, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry and Jack Lew, were middle-aged white men.

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