Secretary Salazar Hosts Media Roundtable
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will meet with the staff of the Minerals Management Service's Denver office on January 29, 2009 and announce the first steps of his agenda to undertake reform at the Department of the Interior. The Secretary will hold a press conference following the meeting.
Topic: The Secretary says his first priority is to restore the integrity and confidence of the American people.
"First I want to work very hard in the days and months and years ahead to reform the Department of Interior so that we can restore the integrity and confidence of the American people in this department. The department has suffered from a neglect of attention on ethics standards over the last administration. We intend to restore the outstanding reputation that this department that Interior used to have at one point in time, and there are many aspects to that. We need to make sure that we establish an expectation of high ethics performance on the part of all of the employees of the Department of the Interior. We’re looking at a number of different issues in different agencies and try to move forward with decisions that will be based on good science and will also be based on what makes the best sense for the American taxpayer and the treasures that we have the responsibility to oversee."
Topic: On the issue of energy production on public lands, Secretary Salazar says the Department of the Interior has a very central role in the nation's energy future.
"You know it is a huge resource of America that belongs to American taxpayers and President Obama has said that he is not opposed to exploration and opening up parts of the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) for exploration and drilling if it’s part of a comprehensive energy plan. So that’s why it’s important that this Department of Interior be more than a department that simply is issuing leases for oil and gas production, but that this department be a department that plays a very central role in developing energy programs for the United States of America."
Topic: Secretary Salazar says that energy exploration and global warming are strongly linked by science from USGS and the FWS.
"I think this department can play a major role with respect to climate change in a number of different ways. First, we will be a key part of the energy agenda for President Obama. That has been clear to me from day one because we house the energy assets of America, if you will. We have a tremendous role in the future of energy and therefore the issue of climate change. Secondly, we have great science within the Department of Interior, both within the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies. And so we will be a contributing member on the team of climate change as well."
Topic: Secretary Salazar comments on water conflicts and competing needs of agriculture, wildlife and municipalities.
"My expertise professionally is in the water arena. I was a water lawyer for a long time in Colorado and I’ve been involved in many of the water disputes of this nation in Colorado and the southwest for a long so I look forward to having a hands on approach, but also recognizing that I’m going to have a lot of people who work with me to bring about a resolution to some of these issues."
Topic: Secretary Salazar says he wants to restore collaboration between the United States of America and Indian tribes across the country.
"There are tough challenges that our Native American communities face across the country and they include the issues of education, we provide education to about 45,000 children through the BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) in the Department of Interior. We have tough issues in healthcare on the Indian reservations and we need to work closely with Tom Daschle at HHS (Health and Human Services) and others to make sure that we are doing more for healthcare on Indian reservations. We need to deal with the issue of lawlessness which is rampant in many of the Indian reservations around the country and I intend to use my own law enforcement background to work with the kind of partnerships that hopefully will bring back a more, a sense of law with regard to Indian country."
Topic: Community Service is a key White House Initiative to engage citizens, many for the first time, to participate in public service. The Department of the Interior Department has many opportunities for volunteers, Secretary Salazar said.
"The Department of Interior is uniquely situated to provide opportunities for young people to come and work within our department, in our parks division, in our wildlife facilities so that young people can be exposed to the wonder of the outdoors and hopefully pursue the kinds of careers in wildlife biology and rangeland recreation or whatever it might be, so that we can move forward with bringing a whole new group of young people into involvement and engagement with respect to our natural resources."