Monday, December 15, 2008

Reports: Colo. Sen. Salazar to be Sec. of Interior

Multiple media sources are reporting that President Elect Obama will nominateColorado Senator Ken Salazar to be Secretary of Interior. The Department of Interior oversees four large land management agencies having wildland fire responsibilities: National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The LA Times:
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), a Latino with deep knowledge of water and land issues, is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the Interior Department.

Two senior Democrats confirmed Monday that Obama will name Salazar to the post, rounding out an energy and environmental policy team announced at a Chicago news conference.

The Senate's confirmation of Salazar would probably put the brakes on several controversial Interior Department decisions on energy development.

The department oversees national parks and other large swaths of public lands, and sets policy for oil and gas drilling, mining and other resource extraction.

Earlier this year, Salazar criticized the department for decisions to open Colorado's picturesque Roan Plateau for drilling. Salazar said the regulations to begin opening land for oil shale development would "sell Colorado short."


Salazar led Colorado's Department of Natural Resources and served as the state's attorney general before winning a vacant Senate seat in 2004. He entered Congress in the same freshman class as Obama.
More information about Senator Salazar:

From his web site:
In Colorado, we are all too familiar with the destruction wrought by wildfires. We can all remember the Hayman wildfire in the summer of 2002 that burned nearly 138,000 acres over the course of three weeks and forced over 40,000 people to evacuate their homes while leaving 133 Coloradans homeless.

Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing to discuss the potential link between a changing global climate and increased wildfire activity in the United States. Climate change is increasingly being cited by scientists as the cause for our more frequent and severe wildfires.
The Denver Post, July 7, 2006:
Sen. Ken Salazar complained Wednesday that lack of money has stymied most of the projects to treat bark beetle-damaged forests in Colorado to reduce wildfire risk.

"I look at Colorado as the Katrina of the West," Salazar said. "We are simply not doing enough."

Salazar's criticism came as senators from Western states scolded Bush administration officials for what they said was the slow pace of efforts to decrease the risk of catastrophic fires.
On November 19, 2008 he wrote a letter to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service providing advice about how funds should be spent for hazardous fuels management.

In 2007 he co-sponsored with Senator Maria Cantwell a bill called the Wildland Fire Safety and Transparency Act of 2007. The bill, which did not pass, would have created a great deal of meaningless, rote, ritualized, paperwork for the four large federal land management agencies.

The bill would have required the federal agencies to:
...jointly submit annual reports to Congress on the wildland firefighter safety practices of the Secretaries, including training programs and activities for wildland fire suppression, prescribed burning, and wildland fire use.
I know what you're thinking, that we need to jump at every chance to make firefighting safer, but having worked for the federal government for 33 years, I know that this legislation would not have done that. It would have just created another series of reports that would have to be completed that would only contain estimates and wild-ass guesses, an additional upward reporting requirement that would keep firefighters from doing their real jobs.

But at least he seems to have some interest in wildland fire issues.


Anonymous said...

While I agree that more paperwork won't enhance firefighter safety, I applaud the fact that soon-to-be Secretary Salazar is aware of and interested in the isue (remember, Colorado was the site of the South Canyon fatalities in 1994). So now it is the responsibility of IAWF, FWFSA, SAF and other groups with a strong focus in wildland fire to educate the Secretary and his staff about ways to make meaningful change in firefighter safety.

Bill G. said...

Anonymous-- Thanks for your comment. I agree totally.

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