Secretary Salazar Farewell Ceremony
March 25, 2013
Ladies and gentlemen, Maureen Foster, chief of staff for the National Park Service.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. I am Maureen Foster from the National Park Service and I'm here today representing the career employees, the B team.
Now, please do not take that the wrong way because when it comes to the politicals, we career employees are the B team because we be here when they come and we be here when they go.
So on behalf of the B team, we would like to thank Secretary Salazar for his service to the nation and to the Department of the Interior. We have learned several important things during his time as Secretary. I'd like to share those lessons with everyone here.
Number one, a cowboy hat and a bolo tie are appropriate for every occasion and they go with every outfit.
When your boss, no matter who that is, asks how quickly something can be done, double your original estimate. So if a report realistically takes two weeks, tell him a month. That way when he cuts the deadline in half you might actually have a chance of finishing it on time.
Number three, surround yourself with a great, diverse team. Make sure that you have young people on that team. And how you define young depends on how old you are, of course.
The Salazar team has had great young people who have brought energy and enthusiasm to their jobs. The quality of those folks is reflected in where some of them have landed after leaving DOI. White House advance, immediate office of the vice president, prestigious law schools, wonderful NGOs. So use the career people as part of your team. Whether they serve as bureau directors or advisers on specific issues, we have a wealth of knowledge and are here to serve the American public as well.
Finally, have folks on your team who have worked with you for a long time. You know that they have your back. For the rest of us, they provide valuable insight into working with you. That is especially true if one of your long term staff members shares your first and middle name.
Finally, the secretary has shown that small personal gestures are really important. Taking the time to stop and talk to someone and ask about his or her family is key. Last year my father died, and I received a handwritten condolence note from Secretary Salazar. While it took him just a few minutes to write it, my family and I will remember that note for ever.
Secretary Salazar, we the employees of the Department of the Interior wish you well as you return to your beloved family and the beautiful San Luis Valley. Thank you, and take care.
To offer a prayer in the Lakota language, Ben [inaudible 0:0:04:42] Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Would you bow your heads, please?
[speaking Lakota language]
In Jesus name we pray, Amen. Thank you.
Father Sheehan, the President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges.
For about 15 years now, I've known Ken Salazar. We don't always agree on everything, but through those years my admiration and our friendship has grown because I've seen the integrity of a man who thinks carefully about public service, about family, about the common good, and then follows his conscience as he acts. In these recent years of political stalemate, Ken Salazar has been a sign of achievement and of hope. Let's pray.
Lord, we thank you for giving us Ken, for the hours he's worked day in and day out, for the courage to be the new sheriff in town when he needs to be, and the patient listener and forger of consensus when he can be.
We thank you for fair treatment of Native peoples, and mineral extraction regulations that protect the environment without cutting off production. As Ken goes home to Colorado, give him time with his mother, joy with Hope and their granddaughter, and give him the peace and the strength to serve his state and nation again.
Ken, may the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. The blessing of almighty God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.
Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our national anthem by Jerell Calhoun.
Ladies and gentleman, the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David Hayes.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of the Interior. We are here, this afternoon, to celebrate and say thank you to our 50th Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar. We must begin first, with a recognition and a thank you to his family, to Hope, his wonderful wife, to his daughters, Andrea and Melinda, and his beautiful granddaughter, Mariah. And to many of Ken's extended family who are here, as well.
All of us thank you for the sacrifices that you have made, to enable Ken to serve in the President's cabinet, as the Secretary of the Interior. It was not easy for you that Ken's job took him away from home and I know that you're looking forward to having him back again.
In addition to Ken's family, this hall is full of other luminaries, including members of the cabinet, White House, staff, many honored guests. I know that Ken will be acknowledging many of you in a few minutes. For my part, let me just say that the presence of Ken's family, so many of his colleagues in the administration and his extended Interior Department family, both here in the hall and streaming on the web, stand as a testament to the affection and respect that all of us have for Secretary Ken Salazar.
It's my honor and pleasure to spend a few minutes here talking about our secretary and why he has meant so much to this department, to the president and his administration and to the country and how he has managed to do so much during four-plus years at the helm of this magnificent department. In reflecting on how to approach this subject, I was struck by the confluence of the many qualities of Ken Salazar, the man, and the accomplishments of Ken Salazar, the secretary.
As you know, Ken hails from his beloved San Louis Valley in Southern Colorado. He has never forgotten his roots. It did not matter that there was no phone or electricity in his ranch house, growing up. His parents, brothers, sisters, teachers and friends, were part of a community that provided a warm embrace, occasional tough love and opportunity. Opportunity for Ken and all of his siblings to attend college, as the first generation of his family to do so. Then law school and you know the rest.
It should come as no surprise that one of the guiding lights for Ken Salazar's tenure here, at the department, has been finding opportunities for our nation's young people. Opportunities for them to expand their horizons, to explore America's great outdoors, to have a job that matters.
That's what his formation of the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps is all about. That's why this department hired 20,000 young people last year alone. That's why Ken has insisted that this department, which spans the entire nation in our reach, should look like America and be a welcome home for the diverse population that we serve and celebrate as one of America's greatest strengths.
While I won't play pop physiologist today, Ken's roots in the San Louis Valley also spawned many other qualities that he has manifested, through his service at the Department of the Interior. One is an off-the-charts work ethic. Ken lives life like it's a sprint. 24/7, a sprint. He speaks often about the joy of the journey, but the joy, really, is in the occasional water breaks that we get from the sprint.
And the many finish lines that we in this department have crossed on Ken Salazar's frenzied, peripatetic rush to use every day to do good and make life better for others. And what a record it is. I told Ken recently that his accomplishments in the last four years compare very well indeed with the record of our nation's longest running and highly successful Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, who had 12 years under FDR to do what he did.
Start with energy. Ken came into this department, knowing from his Senate days, that this department generates one third of the domestic energy in the United States, from our public lands on-shore and off-shore. To him, this was not enough. In particular, given the enormous renewable energy resources in our nation, including the world-class solar resources drenching our public lands in the southwest, the strong winds off the Atlantic coast.
And the fact that this department had not permitted a single major solar or energy project or offshore wind project, throughout its entire history. When we walked in the door, our secretary pushed us to do more. The results have been phenomenal.
Right now, the largest solar energy plants in the world are being built on our lands in the southwest. Due to Ken's drive, determination, constant badgering, our department has approved more than 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on our public lands. That's enough to power more than three million homes. It's the equivalent power generated by 20 or 25 coal fired power plants, all in three and a half years. From virtually a standing start we've already exceeded the 10-year stretch goal that Congress set for us to reach by the end of 2015.
Thank you. Under Ken's leadership we have built a solid architecture for developing more renewable energy on our public lands. In the six southwestern states, we're identifying solar energy zones, where it makes sense to put our large-scale projects. And we're putting incentives in place to build in the right places, while steering clear of other public lands so important to our heritage.
As an enthusiastic supporter of the President's "All of the Above" energy policy, Ken Salazar has devoted equal attention to our conventional energy resources, coal, oil and gas, where again, it is our department, misnamed, perhaps, as the Department of Interior, rather than the Department of Energy, has its hands on the levers of sound energy development.
On fully one third of the nation's land mass, that we have the authority to lease for sub-surface energy development. And the 1.7 billion acres of offshore waters, where cutting edge technology is developing new oil and gas supplies. Ken Salazar's commitment to do conventional energy in the right places and in the right way, so that the energy production on our lands can proceed safely, has been a key cornerstone of his leadership here.
When Ken came into office and saw the previous administration was offering some public lands for oil and gas development, without even inspecting the proposed leases, when leases were being offered on the doorstep of national parks, when he learned that nearly half of all of the lease sales were being protested, Ken shook up the system. Leases are now offered where they make sense, protests have declined from nearly 50 percent to less than 20 percent, and production is flowing.
The secretary knew that safety was important, but the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico on April, 20, 2010, should have removed any doubt about the wisdom of the caution that he has shown when it comes to energy production. And it may have been our secretary's finest hour.
Working closely with the President, Secretary Napolitano, and many others, Ken took the bull by the horns, applied that famous work ethic of his, and together we worked over the toughest stretch of weeks and months imaginable to wrestle the Macondo well down, to produce a report in 30 days that accelerated the upgrade of decades old and outdated deep water drilling standards.
To "blowup," as he put it, the Minerals Management Service and reorganize the department structure for leasing, collecting revenue, and policing offshore gas and oil production while standing firm on a moratorium on deepwater drilling until the industry made investments needed to demonstrate that they could plug and clean up the next runaway deepwater blowout.
It was a tour de force. Ken showed what a leader he is, even sending his press secretary, Kendra Barkoff, and me into the breach on New Orleans on day one without a toothbrush or change of clothes. You don't want to know more.
Although our secretary has created a phenomenal legacy in the energy area, his commitment to our departments and our national's broader conservation goals have been just as remarkable. Ken Salazar loves the land, reveres the land, and views it as a sacred trust that we pass along our nation's magnificent landscapes to our children and their children.
I suspect that his core ethic took hold during the hours and days when Ken was toiling away as a kid in the potato fields or tending the cattle in the San Luis Valley, looking up at the big sky and those magnificent Santo de Cristo Mountains ringing the valley.
And what a record he has compiled. Ken Salazar conceived and inspired the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, hatching it with the help if Pete Rouse and Jim Messina and then partnering with Nancy Sutley, Lisa Jackson, Tom Vilsack, and others to make it happen. The results have been spectacular.
America's Great Outdoors celebrates our active connection to our lands and our outdoors. It's not built on the notion that we set aside lands and forget about them. A pillar of America's Great Outdoors that Ken has built with the active help of Tom Vilsack, in particular, is the notion that we must honor and protect our working landscapes.
There has been no more spirited partner to the ranchers and farmers on our working landscapes in the Dakota grasslands, the crown of the continent, Kansas' Flint Hills, the prairie potholes, and the headwaters of the Everglades, than Ken Salazar. Along the way he created 10 new national wildlife refuges covering nearly four and one half million acres of public and private lands.
Our secretary's view of conservations is an active one. That's what's animated his interest in developing a new generation of great urban parks in close cooperation with governors, mayors, and civil leaders. He's been to New York many times to meet with Mayor Bloomberg, to meld the wonderful New York park system with our national parks of New York, and along the way create the world's largest and most accessible overnight campgrounds for kids in the former Floyd Bennett field. A great idea happening now because of Ken Salazar.
Similar exciting urban park initiatives are under way in Ken Salazar's own Denver, in St. Louis, Chicago, and across the nation. Together with his focus for restoring our urban waterways, including our own Anacostia River here in our backyard, the Bronx River, the L.A. River, Ken has reminded Americans that conservation begins right here in our homes.
Also, when it comes to more traditional conservation Ken did not hesitate at the opportunity to protect the million acres next to the Grand Canyon as our scientists explore potential threats to the Canyon from mining operations. He asked the president to protect 250,000 acres of spectacular landscape at the Rio Grande del Norte and the president did so just hours ago. And he was thinking of our future generations when he approved a new management plan that protects 11 million acres of land in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
Meanwhile there has been no more powerful advocate for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund than Ken Salazar, and no none more focused on making the most of the opportunity to restore the Gulf Coast provided by the BP oil spill and to build resilience into our coastal resources following Hurricane Sandy.
Ken's conservation vision extends into the future. From the beginning he's been worried about climate change and the impact on our resources. He knows how precious our water recourses are. He's given our scientist free rein to find out the effects, and he launched by secretarial order a coordinated science-based strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on America's land, water, oceans, fish, wildlife, and human and cultural resources. 22 landscape conservations systems backed by eight regional interior climate centers.
But back to the man, Ken Salazar, for a moment. While our secretary has been fully invested in policies that matter to our nation, he is no policy wonk. His deep roots in the San Luis Valley ground him in the truth that everything we do matters because it affects real people and their very real lives. Nowhere is that more evident than in Ken's devotion to the Interior mission that speaks to the needs of people and to the history of America and our peoples.
For Indian country Ken feels deep in his bones the unfairness of what has happened to our first Americans. Ken wants to right those wrongs. He has thrown himself into the task, and I submit Ken Salazar's record of support for Indian country will be one of his most enduring legacies, and one of which I know he is most proud, and rightly so.
The hand of Ken Salazar is seen everywhere in Indian country. It is no coincidence that our President has stood here on this stage each and every year of his presidency with tribal leaders from around our nation.
It is no coincidence that we have a new relationship with tribes, one based on true government to government consultation born out of respect, that this department has not hesitated to take on the most difficult of tribal issues, reducing violent crime on our reservations, protecting Indian women by joining with the President and insisting that the Violence Against Women Act protect Native Americans. And settling the bitter Cobell Trust Fund litigation and injecting what will be 3.5 billion dollars in settlement money into Indian country.
And no one has been more delighted at the historic water rights settlements that are bringing freshwater supplies to the Navajos, the Crow, the White Mountain Apaches, the Taos Pueblo, and many others. His heart is in it. He cares. This is more than a job.
Those deep roots in the San Luis Valley and the rich history of Mexican-Americans who settled in that region generations ago also has animated Ken Salazar's commitment that this department, which is the keeper and teller of our nation's history, embrace that responsibility and tell all of our important stories.
It's our civil rights story, including Fort Monroe's inspiration for Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the president's latest announcement, again, just a few hours ago, of national monument designations for Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad home in Maryland, and for Colonel Young's Buffalo Soldier monument in Ohio.
And it's the story that has not been told of the rich influence of Hispanics in this country as illustrated by the President's proclamation of the Cesar Chavez monument at the secretary's request and with the President's enthusiastic response and the secretary's own American Latino Heritage Initiative.
Now while we have seen Ken Salazar's devotion to the people that our department serves throughout America those of us who work directly with Ken has also seen it exhibited within the walls of this building and in American's great outdoors where so many of our employees work. Rarely does our secretary take a trip without spending time talking with our employees and mind you, I have the statistics.
He has traveled to all 50 states, has taken more than 500 flights, spending a total of 1,245 hours and 29 minutes, I don't believe that, in the air, roughly 52 straight days in the air, to see our nation and visit with our employees who does the work that he celebrates on those trips. He's made an impact on their lives and on the lives of those of us who have worked most closely with him, particularly those of us who have been here with him here for the entire journey of four years and coming on three months.
Two final quick points about Ken Salazar. He is a man in integrity. From the moment he walked in the door with our small team on January 21, 2009, Ken set the tone, no conflicts of interest here. He was remaking the Minerals Management Service long before the BP oil spill hit. He is a reformer, a believer in science, a man who listens to all sides, and who makes the right decision regardless of politics.
And finally, Ken Salazar is a leader. Some Secretaries of the Interior, none here, have been caretakers. Not our secretary. He brings people together to make them happen. Within the first week of moving in, the small table in the secretary's office was replaced with a large one. Folding chairs were brought in. Hundreds of important people have sat in those chairs looking for and finding leadership.
CEOs of large energy companies, of conservation organizations, tribal leaders, Interior Department managers, mayors, and governors, fellow cabinet officials, all have found themselves in Ken Salazar's office where they have listened, learned, reacted, and been energized by this man's vision, his impatience, and his love of this department, the United States, and all of our people.
Sally Jewell is a worthy successor for Ken Salazar. Ken will be welcoming Sally soon to his office, and too his chair. But let there be no doubt, all of us in this department, and this administration will miss Ken Salazar as our Secretary of the Interior, let us give him a big hand, and a warm, heartfelt thank you.
Thank you. It's now my pleasure to turn the podium over to one of Ken Salazar's closest friends, and comrades in the joy of this journey, Pete Rouse, the senior counselor to the President of The United States.
Thank you, David.
As many of you may know, I have had a long career in government. During which, I've worked for several elected officials, who's states have been heavily impacted by Department of the Interior policy.
Over the years I've observed three secretary's from Colorado up close, and personal. James Watt, Gale Norton, and now Ken Salazar. I'm pleased to say that in January 2009, 28 years after Jim Watt blew into town, Colorado finally got it right in installing Ken Salazar in Interior.
Now, everybody in this room should take great pride in what the department has achieved over the last four years, under Kens leadership. I know that President Obama certainly does. While this is a proud day for the department, I must admit it's a somewhat of a bittersweet moment for me. I have a number of fond memories of my interaction with Ken, over the last 10 years.
Starting back in 2004, when working with Tom Daschle, we helped recruit him to the race for The United State Senate. Early in 2005, I remember recommending Denis McDonough, President Obama's current Chief of Staff, to help Ken get started in the senate, and get him out of the blocks quickly, which he did.
I remember in 2008, joining with many others in trying to convince, and convincing Ken Salazar to give up a senate seat to be his President's Secretary of the Interior.
Every one of you here knows, that Ken is nothing, if not tenacious. And I have vivid images in my mind, of Ken showing up on my doorstep early in the first year of the administration, pitching the first of what would become annual White House tribal nation's conferences.
I also remember him continually arguing for a greater commitment to America's great outdoors, particularly right in the middle of the time when we were negotiating with Republicans to cut 800 million dollars out of the budget. Most recently, Ken was making a persuasive case to expand the National Parks System right in the middle of sequestration.
I have to say, he was successful in all three enterprises, which is characteristic of the job he's done here.
I should add on a lighter note, that I also remember telling Ken, during the dark days of Deep Water horizon, that it would actually be OK to get one good night of sleep a week.
Now, today we are halfway through what I believe will be recorded as a historic presidency, and when the history of the Obama administration is written, there will be numerous references to Ken Salazar in the index.
Ken, you have done an unbelievable job here for the President, and for the country, over the last four years, and while you will be missed by everybody in this room, and everybody in this administration, you'll never be forgotten. Not by me, not by the President, and not by anybody in this audience, or at the department.
Ken Salazar, thank you for your dedication, and your service.
Thank you, thank you very much.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Pete Rouse is an incredible person, and a great selection for President Obama, to be his chief of staff, when Barack Obama was a United States Senator. Over the years, as Pete, and I have worked on so many different things, I come to realize that the name Peter really is the Latin, and Greek derivative of the name Rock. Pete Rouse the rock of Barack Obama, the rock of Ken Salazar, the rock of our administration. Let's give him a round of applause. Pete, please stand up.
Since it's my time, I'm going to ask a number of you to stand at different times. Pete, I want you to stand, and keep standing, while I say something about a few other people. Please stand, Pete.
Some people say, that it's about, more important than anything else, it's how you enable, and help other people to take on that baton of leadership. I still remember the time in '04, when Barack Obama, and I were number 99, and 100. He was 99, and I was 100, it was a little tough time for us in the United States Senate.
We were lucky, because one of the people who Pete Rouse is very much responsible for, now is the President of The United States of America's Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough. Please stand up Denis, I want to recognize you.
Those two. Not to be out done by Pete, and Denis, and our good friend Jim Messina, who is somewhere else today. I also want to recognize Cecilia MuÃ±oz, please stand up.
From working on Kennedy-McCain on immigration reform, to now being the chair person on the President's Domestic Policy Council.
I would like all the rest of the White House team to please stand up. Julie, and Stephanie, everybody, stand up. Everybody who's in the White House, everybody who's part of Barack Obama's team.
The President, did in fact, put together a stellar team, and they have guided a successful presidency with a tremendous future a head of it, in large part, because that group is steering that future. We are also tremendously proud of the cabinet the President of the United States put together. An all-star cabinet in my view, from all around the country, and different walks of life.
Today we are blessed, and honored to have the former Governor of California, now the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, please stand.
Arizona, Arizona, Arizona. Stay standing. Standing next to the great Secretary of Homeland Security, the former Governor of Arizona, we have the former Governor of Kansas, who is not only the Secretary of Health and Human Services, but also spearheading the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Kathleen Sebelius.
Next to Kathleen, the outstanding representative, former representative of Illinois, Peoria, Illinois. Who now serves as a Secretary of Transportation, Ray LeHood, and his wife Kathy.
To his right. The great former Governor of Iowa, who has this great story in his own biography. The Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. My brother, and friend Tom Vilsack.
I should go on with just a few others. Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Jo Ellen, please stand.
Bob Perciasepe, administrator EPA. Nancy Sutley, Chairperson of the Council on Environmental Quality. Kathy Ruemmler, Chief Counselor to the President of the United States.
Give them all a round of applause, they're a wonderful team.
I want to also acknowledge two of my predecessors who are here today. I'm very proud of both of them, and they both helped me in my transition, coming into Secretary of Interior, into this awesome job.
They love the land, and the water, and the wildlife of this America, in the same way that all of you do here today. I want you to help me recognize two people, who frankly have helped me so much. One who actually was a role model for me, and asked me to be Deputy of Secretary of Interior, many years ago, former Secretary of the Interior, former Governor of Arizona. Bruce Babbitt, please stand.
To show you how this agenda, because it's about jobs, and our heritage, is not just a democratic agenda, but it transcends partisan politics. The champion of the Centennial Celebration of the national parks when I was a United States senator, who did so much for conservation, Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne.
I want to thank a lot of people, so forgive me for taking most of my comments, and thanking people, but hold your applause until these folks all stand up. I'm going to go in alphabetical order.
Dan Ash, the Director of Fish and Wildlife Service. Please stand, where ever you are, I know you're here. Just stay standing. No, hold your applause.
Eileen Sobeck, Acting Secretary Insular Affairs. Eileen. Tommy Beaudreau, the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Tommy please stand. There you are Tommy. Anne Castle, Secretary for Water and Science. Micheal Conner, Director of the Bureau of Reclamation. David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Rachel.
John Jarvis, the Director of The National Parks Service. Suzette Kimball, Director of The United States Geological Survey. Joe Pizarchik, Director of the Office of Surface Mining. Rhea Suh, the Assistant Secretary of Policy Management and Budget. Hillary Tompkins, Solicitor General of The Department of Interior.
Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Jim Watson, Admiral Director of the Bureau of the Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Neil Kornze, Principal Director of the Bureau of Land management. Please Stand.
Hold your applause still, just a few other people. Tom Strickland, former Secretary of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Bob Abbey, former Director of the BLM. While I'm doing this, former United States Senator, and a wonderful champion of the outdoors in the state of Utah, and around the country, US Senator, Bob Bennett.
Let's give them all a round of applause.
I want to say, these jobs are difficult for all of us. We know they are, but you can't do these jobs without your family. I am honored to be blessed with my family, who is here today. To Hope, known to us in the valley as Esperanza, to Melinda, to Andrea, and Miguel. Tell them thank you, because they've given up a lot, while I've been on the road.
They wouldn't let me do this by myself, so my three sisters. Please stand, Elaine, Margaret, and June, please stand. Along with Alyssa, Johnny-Micheal, Corenda, Valerie please stand. Marvin, please stand. This is my family. Thank you.
I know we don't want to give too long of a speech, but I got to say something about Father Michael Sharon, and also to Ben Worshee thank you for that wonderful prayer in Lakota. Micheal Sharon, please stand. Micheal is a Jesuit priest, who is truly one of my best friends, and spiritual advisers.
All of you know, there is a new Pop in the world, and he is a Jesuit.
Well, Father Micheal Sharon, is the President Elect of the Association of Jesuit Colleges of universities all around the country. Former president, and the real leader that made Regis University, what Regis University is today. Give it up to another Coloradan, Father Micheal Sharon.
Let me make a few comments [inaudible 0:0:46:07] . I know David covered a lot of the work that we've done here, but I want to cover it by giving you the sense of where this came from.
First, we all need to know that this is all part of President Obama's vision, and the agenda. The agenda that he laid out for me in Chicago, way back in December of 2009. It was there, where I was a US Senator not knowing if I wanted to come over to the Department of Interior, but President Obama is a persuasive President of the United States.
He said, "Ken, what I want to do is I want to make sure we come in, and change the world." "I want to make sure that no matter who you are, no matter where you're from, no matter what your background is, that if you play by the rules, and you work hard. That you will have a shot at the American dream.
All of us, who have been a part of his team, have been very much a part of that vision for the last four plus years. In my own case in the Department of Interior it came down to five keystone areas that were assigned to me, on how we might be able to move President Obama's agenda forward in his historic presidency. Those five areas are.
First, energy. Second, a 21st century conservation agenda. Third, first Americans. Fourth, water. Fifth, youth. Through the work that we've done.
I want to say a word about each one of those. On energy, we are proud of the fact, that yes, in less than four years, we were able to double the amount of renewable energy that we are producing in the United States of America.
We've captured the power of the sun, and the power of the wind, and the power of Geo-thermal. We are doing more for renewable energy than has been done at any time in the history of The United States of America, and for that we are very proud of President Obama's leadership in making that happen.
Many years ago when I came to the US Senate. Senator Tim Worth came to see me, along with some other folks. We set out on an agenda called, "Set America Free."
I still remember the speech I gave on the floor of the US Senate, Tim, and that speech was about how we were headed in the wrong direction. We're importing 60 percent of our oil from foreign countries, at the time. EIA, you'll remember Bob, said we were going to be at 70 percent in a few years.
Yet today, we are at a point we're importing less than 40 percent of our oil from foreign countries. It's been because of the, all of the above energy strategy, which was implemented by the President, and his entire team. So yes, today we are using less oil because we are creating much more fuel efficient cars than ever before under the great leadership of the President, and Ray LaHood, and Lisa Jackson, and Nancy, and others. Heather Zichal had been involved in that effort.
Yes today, we are producing more renewable energy than we ever have. Yes today, we have the kind of advanced technologies that are going on in energy, that's giving us vehicles that will be able to make 100 miles to a gallon, or not even use gasoline, or oil at all. It's been an amazing thing.
One of the amazing metrics for me always, as I give these speeches around the country, is that we are now at a point where we are importing less than 40 percent of our oil.
I remember, Tim, as I gave that speech on "Setting America Free" on the floor of The United States Senate, that I said that with your guidance, and the leadership of so many people, that we had so much that we could do. We've been able to accomplish a lot of that over the last several years.
At the heart of it all, it has to do with the national security of The United States, because we don't want to be dependent on the middle-east, or anybody else for having to import oil from those places.
We also know that our national economic security is dependent on the job creation that comes from energy. We also know that our environmental security is also very dependent on how we harness the activities of humankind, to be able to deal with the realities of climate change.
The work that this entire Obama energy team has been doing, is one that I am most proud of, and one that deserves a standing round of applause for Barack Obama, and his entire team, we've been working on it from day one.
A 21st century conservation agenda for our country, is one that is very important for all of us who live on this planet, and care so much about making sure that what we're doing is passing it on to our children, in a way that we can be proud of.
With a population now of 350 million in The United States of America, with a population of 7 billion around the world, how we take care of this fragile planet of ours is something that is very important, and hence the conservation agenda for President Obama is one which we have embraced, and relished.
It starts at the beginning with the President of The United States signing the 2009, Public Lands Act, which became the most important conservation legislation signed by any president in the last 30 years. We're proud of the Presidents beginning on the conservation agenda back in 2009.
He didn't finish there. He kept right on going, protecting some of the great work that is going on all around the country. Investments in the Crown of the Continent, and in the headwaters of the Everglades, and the longleaf pine with Tom Vilsack and all of our friends there. So many places all around the country that are these landscapes of natural significance that define us as conservation community in the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt.
He didn't stop there. He said, "We've got to do something more with urban rivers and urban populations," and so the great parks that are being created now in New York and in St. Louis and in Denver and all over the country, that's all part of an effort to connect up the people of America to the places where they live.
We didn't stop there. We said there are rivers that we've got to make sure we're paying attention to. The Penobscot River in Maine and the Alva River in Washington and so many other places. Those have all been part of the America's Great Outdoors agenda which so many of you have been a part of, which has been led by Will Shafroth here in the Department of the Interior as a counselor of America's Great Outdoors.
Today, yes, it was an important day at the White House. We walked in there'd been a lot of work going on for the last three years. But Pete, we were so proud that you and Nancy and so many other people were able to pull together all the forces of government and have the President sign five proclamations under the Antiquities Act that, number one, protects forever the 240,000 acres of the Rio Grande Gorge in northern New Mexico forever.
Number two, out in the west, in Washington State, if you look off the coast from the little town of Anacortes you'll find these beautiful islands called the San Juan Islands where the whale and the dolphin and so many other species that we know go there.
He made the San Juan area under the BLM also a national monument. Now Secretary Babbitt, they will be part of the National Landscape Conservation System, which was also signed into law in 2009. That's a pretty good bookend for this conservation agenda.
We know that Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, when they produced their great documentary on the national parks and called it "America's best idea," it is still an idea that needs to be perfected in a lot of different ways. We need to make sure we're telling the story of the internment camps and Japanese-American citizens. And the stories of Native-Americans and story of African-Americans. The story of Latino-Americans. The story of everybody. Because no one's story is more important or less important than anybody else.
Today, President Obama continue on part of that journey, as he signed the proclamation that created the 399th National Monument. That is the monument and national park for Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, to remind us about a woman who dared to change the world.
A woman who dared to change the world almost 150 years ago, by doing what she did, to make sure that we embraced the right purposes for the Civil War. But he didn't stop there. There was a soldier by the name of Colonel Young, who was a valiant in the war and who also ended up becoming one of the people who worked in the National Parks Service.
But he was denied becoming a general in the United States military, at the time, because of his color. So he decided, one day, to get on his horse. They told him that he was unfit, that he couldn't qualify to be a general. He got on a horse and rode from Ohio, all the way here to Washington DC, to make the case that he was, in fact, fit to be a general in the United States Army.
Today, as a result of the President's action, Colonel Young's home and his place become a unit of the national park. Taking us to 401 units of the national park system. We're very proud of that today, Mr. President. Finally, today the president also brought into creation and reality a national park called The First State National Monument, in Delaware.
Which was long in coming in coming under the leadership of director of national parks service, John Jarvis, and so many other people who worked on it. But Delaware, by itself, did not have a national park. I would argue with the Vice President and with Tom Carper, at times, that maybe Delaware was so small we should just make the whole state a national park.
They didn't buy it. The president, today, created a monument in Delaware that gives them a national park. So all 50 states have at least one national park. It's all good.
As important as all those natural wonders and natural heritage celebrations are for the United States. I have also said this to my friends who work on this agenda around the country, that we ought to always underscore by the economic value that brings to the United States. We have a conservation agenda which is grounded in more than a century of work, several centuries of work.
But at the end of the day, it's about jobs. It's about 9.5 million jobs created in the United States of America because of the outdoor recreational industry, the hunters, the hikers, the bikers, the kayakers, the floaters, the birders, all the people who enjoy the great outdoors. All of that conservation agenda on America's great outdoors is founded on that premise.
Finally, just a couple quick points, that third thing. Energy, America's great outdoors, conservation, and Native Americans. If all of us who have been a part of this country and who have studied the history of our nation and of this world, America has moved forward to become a more perfect nation and to advance the cause of humanity, but we do have painful chapters in our past.
We have painful chapters of slavery and painful chapters of genocide with Native Americans, the incarceration and internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.
So it was important, as part of what the President of United States believes in so strongly, that everybody, no matter who you are, no matter what your color is, no matter what reservation you live on, that you have an opportunity of living the American dream.
We have been fortunate to have been able to usher in a new beginning in the relationship and in the opportunity for Native Americans from sea to shining sea. Yes, it includes many of the things that David mentioned, the resolution of the Cubal case, the water for the first time in history to come to the 200,000 people who live on the Navajo reservation and in the city of Gallup and in the Crow and so many other places.
We're proud of that. We're proud of that because no matter who you are and no matter where you're from, no matter how impoverished you are, in whatever part of the United States you are, you ought to have a crack at it. We are delighted. Today we celebrate everything that this president and his team have accomplished on behalf the nation's first Americans and Alaska natives.
The fourth keystone I spoke to the president about was working on water issues. I won't spend a lot of time talking on that other than to say that on the Colorado River between the nation of Mexico and the United States, we were able to put together what essentially is the most important agreement that has ever been put together between the United States and Mexico on water in the Colorado River.
You will see a restoration of the Colorado River on the Mexican side of the border. You'll also see water sharing arrangements and a whole host of other things. For that, I'd like to give Mike Connor great recognition, and Anne Castle, because they have led that effort on behalf of the United States of America.
Finally, yes, so much of what we do is about our young people. I had the honor working with my fellow officers in the Cabinet and with the White House on ushering in a new opportunity for our young people as leaders of conservation.
We last year hired over 22,000 young people to come and work at the Department, ages 15 to 25, knowing that they are the people who we pass the baton to as 40 percent of our workforce will retire here at the Department of Interior. Of our 76,00 employees, about 40 percent of them will retire between now and 2016. So raising the next generation of biologists and engineers and conservationists has been very much a part of that agenda and something that we are very delighted about.
We also are very concerned about it and concerned about all these programs, frankly, because of the fiscal clouds which loom over the United States. What I tell people as I have met with them and as I met with the Interior employees is that it's even in these times of crisis where we need to make sure that we're holding our chins up, knowing that it's going to get better.
Knowing that somehow or other we'll get to the right compromise on the fiscal issues and that these matters that we care about so much, which are so grounded in the moral imperative of who we are as a nation and as an example for the rest of the world. We will find the balance to be able to make sure that these programs continue to grow under the leadership of President Obama.
Let me finally just say to all of you. My personal story has been, yes, a long one, it seems, although it seems to pass very quickly. My brother, Leroy, says, "Ken, you have these four- and six-year chapters left in you. What's your next chapter?" I don't know. I'll be looking for a job probably around April the 15th, after my successor, Sally Jewel, is confirmed. She's an outstanding choice by the president to run this department.
I'm very proud of her and the work that she will do. I remember, so often, coming out from our house there in Los Inconis, 265 miles south of Denver, as my brothers and sisters and all of my family know, and looking at this beautiful valley. Looking off to the west and seeing the San Juan Mountains, named after Saint John the Baptist. Knowing that the river that runs right by our house is named the San Antonio River, after Saint Anthony.
Knowing the story of the great [inaudible 0:1:02:09] , which are these wonderful mountains, as you look to the east of our place. Watching the sun rise, with the beautiful crimson colors, over those beautiful mountains. Knowing the history of our place in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. The founding of the city of Holy Faith, the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
And knowing that, out of that place, somehow my parents were imbuing in us this sense that anything was possible here in America. Yes, it was my parents' rules, President Obama's vision that anything was possible in America, so long as we worked hard. According to my dad..."Keep the rules," my dad would say, "so long as you keep your nose clean."
Making sure that anything was possible in the United States. I often harken back to my own time as Attorney General, as United States Senator and Secretary of Interior and to the great example that was set forth for me and all of my family, by two parents who believed in a future yet unseen, two parents born in a place which is one of the most impoverished places in the United States of America.
And yet, a mother, who at the age of 19, not knowing where she was going, got on a train. She hadn't been here before. Came to Washington DC. She helped the people of that generation, the people of World War II, execute that great effort, on behalf of the United States of America and the world. And helped five years here in Washington DC, as they moved into the Pentagon at that time.
My father, who came out here, some time in that same time period, then joining the Army, serving in Hawaii right after Pearl Harbor. Retiring or leaving the Army as a staff sergeant. When he passed away, in 2001, asking his children to make sure he was buried in his uniform of World War II. He wanted to be buried in his uniform of World War II because he so believed in this country and what this country had brought to all of his family.
I have no doubt that, in both my father and my mother's mind...My mother now, age 91, who is at home with my sister, June, and my sister's taking care of her. Their greatest legacy in life is the fact that, though they were not college graduates, though they were poor and we didn't have electricity or telephone until much later on in life, in the ranch. Yet they had this faith that somehow, things would be much better for their eight children.
They could not have seen around the corner and discerned what that future would be. But they had this absolute faith that, somehow, we were on a march towards a more perfect union and a more perfect humanity. In our own incremental way, my family and I, have tried to make the world a better a place. At the end of the day, President Obama, in deciding to run for President of the United States of America, as Pete Rouse and others were so involved in helping him frame.
It was about the President's view and vision that if we have faith in the future and faith in ourselves, we can create a more perfect America and we can create a more perfect world. Yes we can, that was our slogan in 2007. Si se puede, that was the slogan of Cesar Chavez. Si se puede was heard loud and strong, all over Lapas, as the President made the 398th unit of the national park.
To all you I say, in my farewell speech, here at Interior, I love you all, and I know we can and we will. Thank you very much.