Interior Update ~ Salazar: Cows AND Condos and oil & guns in parks & big ag …

The recent rumors that rancher Ken Salazar is a shoe-in at Interior have flipped on its head many of Obama’s most fervent western supporters’ idea of what the President-elect’s campaign promise for big-‘C’ “Change” might mean.  That campaign slogan’s broad-sweeping allegation had many hopeful that a new outlook, an outlook responsive to Obama’s supporters on the ground, might change for western public land and wildlife issues following the President-elect’s sweeping victory.  

Industry reaction to reports indicating Salazar’s favor give some indication as to how much “change” conservationists might expect.  Colo. senator reported as choice for Interior Arizona Daily Star :

“He’s lived off the land all his life. He understands the system that we have to deal with day in and day out and he would understand the most about how to streamline the system and better manage our public lands,” said Bray, [Arizona Cattlemen’s Association] deputy director for government affairs.

Many people like it that Salazar comes from an energy-producing state and understands energy issues, said Frank Maisano, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant for oil refiners and wind-energy producers.

 Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Black-tailed Prairie Dog

Salazar’s record on the environment and species in particular is troubling, especially when such conflicts with extractive land-uses and development.  Succeeding Gale Norton as Attorney General of Colorado Salazar’s response to the USFWS scientifically informed finding that the black-tailed prairie dogs are biologically imperiled : 

Greg Walcher, Ken Salazar, and the director of Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, Don Ament, threatened legal action if the USFWS listed the black-tailed prairie dog as a threatened species.

Occupying 2% of their former habitat, the only listing black-tailed prairie dogs enjoy currently is on Colorado’s Department of Agriculture designation of the prairie dog as a “pest” species whereby Salazar’s effort to prevent federal protection allows ranchers and developers to continue eradication efforts employing poison gas cartridges, zinc phosphide, and aluminum phosphide.  Salazar did so to protect developers in Denver and to protect ranchers from scientifically defunct claims that the prairie dogs represent a threat to their livelihood, baseless myths that they compete for forage and that prairie dog burrows break cattle’s legs.  They’re lies ~ that uniquely destructive flavor of western cowboy folklore all-too-familiar in Bush’s Interior – and reportedly coming to an Obama DOI near you.

This record – and more on oil & guns in parks & refusing to cap Big Ag subsidies at below 7 figures per recipient etc. etc. – has prompted a frenzy of conservationists both publicly and privately dismayed with the decision – all questioning “why” ?   Original Arizona Daily Star:

“it’s such a shame that we’re not getting basically the best conservationist in the country who understands the other side’s views and considers all sides regarding issues,” said Michael Finkelstein, the former Center for Biological Diversity director, speaking of Grijalva.

Change ?

Salazar “will completely undermine Obama’s message of change. He will not bring change to the public lands of the western United States.” [Jon Marvel] called the appointment “a travesty.”

They’re right.

Energy & Environment — Of the People, By the People: Share your thoughts


  1. vickif Avatar

    I am strongly and sickeningly irritated by this.

    I am going to send editorials throughout Colorado and the U.S. I am going to demand that Salazar ‘represent’ his true intentions. Let the world, and conservationists judge his background and intentions.

    We need to have everyone possible sending a barrage of letters to Obama, the papers, the news stations, the big environmental groups, and then send them more. We need to start Salazar’s days in the DOI with demands for true change or his resignation. We havegot to speak up loud and clear that we will not tollerate anymore of his rancher back scratching.

    Salazar being represented as “living off of the land” is dishonest. The guy is corporate, he is no Mountain Man Jack. He didn’t live harmoniously with the land, he degraded it. He is no ethical voice of conservation, he is an attempt at pulling the woll over our eyes….more of the same.

    I personally plan to boycott and protest outside Dairy Queens in Denver. I am going to make this guy, (too bad for him) my pet project.

    I will make a list of “musts” and hand them out. I will include a demand for him to publically list his business relationships and public land use.

    Anyone wanting to help with that list, feel free to give in put-unlike Obama, I will not over look the small conservation groups.

    I am going to start with taking pictures of black-tailed prairie dogs. I will distribute them side by side with a massive pile of manure, uhhhhhhh!

    My temples are throbbing. I think being betrayed by your own candidate is the ultimate motivation!

  2. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Vicki, wow so supportive of our President Elect now are you? He has been doing a great job so far in picking all his team, and now you have a headache…look at the other folks he picked, are you happy with them? and remember, Obama has stated many times, he is the President and his cabinet is to carry out what he wishes, so how do you know the Pres. Elect will not step in if he see’s Salazar playing games? You need to have more patience and faith before you start your boycott…Gosh folks, give the man a break, yes he is only a man and not even able to implement his strategies yet…..can ya at least give him credit for all he has done so far, or is Public lands and cattle the only reason you voted for him??? (if you voted for him)

  3. Salle Avatar

    I wonder if having two brothers in the cabinet is really a good idea, especially if they are Ag and Interior… And especially if they have been noted violators of the land.

    The Ag sec. has to take on the fast food industry, for one, or we will have more of the same trashing of public health and well being in the form of greater incidence rates of heart disease and diabetes, etc.. It’s one of the legs of the medical industrial complex that helps to keep us poor and upwardly stagnant which maintains the two-tiered social stratigraphy model… otherwise known as feudalism.

  4. JimT Avatar

    I suspect there are thousands of enviros who have spent their lives and careers in varying capacities fighting for the health and preservation of the West and its resources who are pretty damned disappointed with Obama and his group, and with good reason. The only difference between Salazar and the previous model of picking state governors is the title he holds..held. Perhaps you don’t follow the news on environmental issues as close as some of us, but the damage that has been done, on the ground and with regulatory hanky panky these past 8 years is catastrophic; there is no other word for it. Unfortunately, most of it is out of the public eye, and with the economy the way it is, out of the public’s concern.

    And while I am not a one issue voter, yeah, alot of us were heartened and encouraged to think that the mantra CHANGE would actually apply to the mismanagement of the West. What this pick shows me is that Obama doesn’t “get it” about the West or the grassroot folks his campaign emailed constantly to get out and work for Obama. This just feeds the Sagebrush Rebellion folks that it will be business as usual, although in some cases, they might actually have to comply with the law; that will depend on whom it is appointed to run MMS, USFWS, BLM, BIA and the rest of the subagencies.

    The next big indication of Salazar’s intent to rectify the damage aggressively, or sit in his chair with his finger in the political wind will be the choice for Solicitor. If someone like Leshy, who is an academic, not a litigator who is used to the legal intricacies, it will be miinor tweaking at best. If it is someone like Vic Sher, or Kennedy or someone from EarthJustice, it will tell me Salazar is willing to let someone actually start enforcing permit conditions, environmental assessements, etc.

  5. kt Avatar


    I really do not see how this is going to be very much better. Salazar is the WORST one of all the names floated. The reason there was not more vocal overt opposition before is that the Obamans were crafty about it. Kept floating distractions. And it shows the Dems continue to buy into the Myths of the West. It will be the same relentless assault, done a tad more unctuously, covered up in more open guest lists to admin. beef barbecues, babble about “holistic” grazing, “collaborative” ESA (extinction) plans, etc.

    Can’t wait to see Salazar dance around cows and global warming.

    First page on a Word Search under Ken Salazar Cattle

    Salazar and ethanol:

    This was the awful More Rancher Welfare bill from last year:

    His larger world view:

  6. kt Avatar

    That Prairie dog is pretty darn appealing Brian! It is so disgusting that the Colorado welafre ranchers that Ken Salazar carries water for keep killing them (or having Wildlfie Services kill them) for “competing” with thousand pound beef cattle. The sad and sorry fact is that GREED, even for small blades of grass, is the overwhelming mindset of nearly all ranchers.

    Salazar’s track record on prairie dogs alone shows why a western rancher, and Salazar in particular, just should not be appointed to any Post of importance in anything to do with public lands or wildlife. Western ranchers take from the public commons – be it “forage”, water, or the public’s wildlife – which they view as competitor or enemy – no matter if the critter is on public or private lands.

    Plus Salazar will be charged with using current science. Well, current science overwhelmingly shows the tremendous costs to land, water, wildlife and biodiversity of public lands ranching in the arid West.

    Folks need to make noise about this terrible appointment for Interior Secretary.

    Obama has kicked the environmental movement in the groin with a pointy-toed cowboy boot on this one. Plus, it seems to me that’s only chance we have of getting constant scrutiny on Salazar’s dealings as this unfolds, and getting any better Undersecretaries … is to express our distate over this.

  7. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    Me again,,

    isnt the same salazar that was for the continued use of cyanide poisoining to control coyotes in colorado,, i seem to remeber a thread about that while back,,

    yep,, ole hussein really did it,, he is a man of change,,like the old joke goes

    men, we have good news and bad news,,, the good news,, is we are changing underwear today,,

    the bad news, we are only gonna change them inside out,,

    and so goes the hussein mantra of change,

  8. kt Avatar

    Yes – Everyone should CALL the Transition Number Buffaloed provided. E-mail , and raise a ruckus — NO prairie dog killing enabler, NO western ranchers heading Interior – NO SALAZAR. It’s Grijalva, Grijalva, Grijalva.

  9. SAP Avatar

    I find the “hussein” references offensive & stupid. That may be cute & acceptable in Mississippi, but a lot of us find it stupidly offensive & offensively stupid.

    I am heartened that there are people who are deeply passionate about the West, and if the DOI appointment is your number one criterion for judging Obama’s yet-to-begin presidency, more power to you.

    But let’s look at all the other things President Obama will need to be working on, things that have either been neglected or actually made worse by 8 years of BushCo:

    Health Care
    America’s reputation abroad
    Terrorism (made worse under BushCo, not better)
    Getting out of Iraq
    Paying attention to Afghanistan
    Re-regulating a financial sector that has proven how bad laissez-faire really can be

    & the list goes on & on. We’re in a real mess.

    Granted, it’s important that he chooses good people to delegate responsibility to for things like DOI, and I’m certainly not suggesting that the mess we’re in means we should just forget about public lands, wolves, & the environment for the next few years. But the tone of denunciation and disappointment here is a little much.

    Yes, maybe Salazar is a hack; maybe Secy Interior is being handed out like a cheap party favor to a favored demographic who helped get out the vote in a swing state. At a bare minimum, though, I am expecting him to run Obama’s DOI with a transparency we haven’t seen in at least eight years (to underscore that, note today’s reports on the investigation into Julie MacDonald’s political interference at DOI under BushCo).

  10. vicki Avatar


    Shame on anyone who thinks we should do nada when dissatisfied. Ofcourse I am not happy with every choice Obama has made, noone will be, never said I would be. What I have said, time and time again, is that we should not stop voicing our opinions about the choices made on OUR behalf, and in the interests of the PUBLIC.

    I will be there, voicing my opinon, anytime I disagree.

    Give the president elect a chance, yep…I am but I am not giving Salazar the chance to screw up, and then be able to have anyone say “no one spoke up, he seemed like the right guy at the time” . I also won’t sit around and hold everyone else accountable when I haven’t contributed at all.

    Salazar was not, is not, and never was, the better man for this job. He was a political wash out, and the first of what I am sure will be many choices I may not agree with.

    Do I blame Obama entirely? No. I am hopeful I am wrong? Yes. Do I expect perfection? No. But what I do expect-no I know- is, that if you sit around being hopeful and do nothing to advocate for what you want, you have absolutely nobody to blame but yourself if you don’t get what you want.

    Do you expect me to just sit back and say “Hey Mr. Salazar, go ahead and do whatever you want and I will wait and see if it ends in disaster?” It ain’t gonna happen. I am going to say “Hey Mr. Salazar, here is what I expect from you…” and if he fails to hear my voice, and many others, I will yell louder.

    How do I know Obama won’t step up if Salazar plays games? I don’t. But what I do know is that if no person sees fit to tell Obama when they think something is wrong, he may just walk around assuming we are all okay with what is happening.

    I will speak up now, as I always have, because it is my personal ethical responsibility.

    Do I now believe Obama is a disaster, no…but I believe it doesn’t end with him having been elected… neither does my obligation to speak up.

  11. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    I am sure he will hear your voice along with a million others….but call, write a letter, it does not look to good to have folks out picketing the streets even before he has taken office! Others may see what you do differently than others…but good for you, standing up for what you believe is good, but he has been appointed, so I can guarantee that Obama is not going to change his mind and appoint who you all want just to satisfy, he may if he see’s that Salazar is not working for what we/he wants in the future but not till then. And please write Salazar I will too, and let him know what we expect of him and the Obama administration.

  12. Salle Avatar

    In addition to what Vicki said,

    …this is a participatory form of governing, she is doing her civic duty by participating, and I plan to and will continue to do the same.

    Grijalva, por favor!!

  13. IzabelaM Avatar

    Kim Kaiser..
    welcome back.

  14. Brian Ertz Avatar

    There is growing repudiation of the prospect of Salazar at Interior. Look for it tomorrow.

    Nobody knows who the source of this rumor might be – but there’s still not a named source and a whole lot of folk throughout the country are clinging to the hope of that uncertainty.

    Political operatives as anonymous sources stoking speculative momentum can be powerful – look at the Hillary nod. Let’s hope that the experience, expertise, good-will, and galvanized response of a whole lot of people who know and care is more powerful.

    John Podesta, Obama Transition Team Head,, fax 202-682-1867; Greg Nelson – liaison to Mr. Podesta,, fax 202-443-4724

  15. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    Thank you Izabella, I wont stay too long, I promise,,

    SAP said

    “I find the “hussein” references offensive & stupid. That may be cute & acceptable in Mississippi, but a lot of us find it stupidly offensive & offensively stupid.”

    i guess if using his middle name, oh and by the way, the name he using for his inauguaration, they you will have to just get over it,, it IS his name, whats wrong with that,

    Look, you people chose to throw they baby out with the bathwater without for one second thinking about what you might really get, and hussein had everyone suckered in on that notion and look what you got,, another fast talking money grubbing favor oweing, politician, you didtnt even think to believe that his political roots were from the most vile sorts of politcal glad handing in city and state government in this country, next to louisana and expect him to come out some kind of mr squeeky clean,, dont owe any favors to anyone kind of guy dont get mad at me because you now see how foolish it was to believe the unbacked rhetoric. No one likes the hitler reference as far as fancy speakers go, so i will use another,, Jim Jones, the preacher,, oh, yes, he had a fine line, people passing out at his feet over joy and happiness, until they fell out dead at his feet ,,,,,, so whether you like my reference to him or not,, i really dont care, and as far as where i come from, what does that have to do with it,, is that some kind of racial whiff,, sounds like it to me, you got some disdain for Mississippi folk, you dont worry about where i come from, (at least i dont mind anyone knowing,, knowing it or my real name, where 95% of everyone else on here uses code and hides in the shadows) so i have nothing to apologize for, i wish you would go back to the post before the election and read all the happy wish list things you just knew this clown would do, save the world, give us our lands back, what ever,, and now look at your comments now, You got fleeced by the worst kind of politician and you now know it,,so dont take it out on me, i tried to warn you!!

  16. JB Avatar

    “You got fleeced by the worst kind of politician and you now know it,,so dont take it out on me, i tried to warn you!!”

    Ha! Your dire warnings were that Obama was a mad, far left-wing socialist, hell-bent on socializing the US. Given his appointments so far, I’d say your aim was well off the mark!

  17. JB Avatar

    Not that I’m all that happy about it.

  18. SAP Avatar

    kim kaiser –

    I can’t tell whether your entire rant is directed at me or just kind of the gestalt of this blog. I didn’t have my own “happy wish list” for Obama’s presidency (unless you mean hoping that he wouldn’t go around the world starting wars and running our economy into the ground — I’m still optimistic that we can expect that much).

    I’m not some starry-eyed idealistic Obama supporter, I just don’t like your nasty tone and am exercising my First Amendment right to say so.

    I think the kind of nastiness represented by referring to him as “Hussein” is very troubling, as it sure looks and sounds a lot like an attempt to make him sound foreign, un-American, maybe even related to Saddam Hussein. There is a whole wacko-conspiracy cult out there that insists that Obama was not really born in Hawaii, but was instead born somewhere in the Middle East, and shouldn’t have been eligible for the Presidency.

    It’s fair and realistic to point out that Obama came up through the Chicago political establishment (exactly why he was able to go head-to-head with the Billary Machine), it’s fair to point out that he is a politician and that he owes people favors. But this “Hussein” business could get out of hand. Our country doesn’t need a repeat of the ’68 riots.

    Don’t be childish with your “what’s wrong with me using his middle name” faux innocence. You didn’t call Bill Clinton “Jefferson” did you? The 43d President went around calling himself “W,” even handed out campaign stickers with just a “W”, so that’s different.

    And yes, look at my comments now: wait and see, he’s not even inaugurated yet.

  19. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Kim Kaiser,

    If Obama’s middle name was….James……would you refer to him as “James” or is this just a feeble attempt to do your best Rush Limbaigh?

  20. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    I mean “Limbaugh”………sorry.

  21. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    The most telling thing about Salazar is that Dick Kempthorne thinks it is a good choice.

  22. Barb Avatar


    “First amendment rights” do not exist on private blogs.

    Nor should they.

  23. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    kim Kaiser said,
    “…..i guess if using his middle name, oh and by the way, the name he using…… ”
    What a hoot
    Kaiser, the title of some of the most bloodthirsty dispicable hated despots in history. Responsible for decades of repression, war and death.
    there’s the kettle calling the pot black.

  24. IzabelaM Avatar

    whatever the arguments with Kim are..maybe we need them.
    I am absolutely upset by the choice and maybe I am /was naive. Hoping for a change.
    I voted for Obama ONLY because the old man made a wrong choice for VP.
    I was worrying about Obama.
    But I read a lot and I liked him in the end. BUT I was worrying because he never covered any environmental issues in his press releases or talks.
    I worried because the press did not even care to ask.
    The debates were empty of the question I/YOU CARED ABOUT.
    So..we got what we asked for.
    and in the end..I agree with JEFF E who Says:
    “December 17, 2008 at 7:00 pm
    The most telling thing about Salazar is that Dick Kempthorne thinks it is a good choice”

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwww….. long as Ralph accepts your…
    at least Marion is not here 🙂

  25. Barb Avatar

    Does anyone have a great media list I can cc??? I have some media e-mails, not all.

  26. SAP Avatar

    Barb – the very existence of private blogs is an exercise of First Amendment rights, as is our participation here. Kim has a First Amendment right to call President Obama “hussein” if he wants, & I have the right to tell him what I think of it.
    If you mean that, because it’s a private blog, Ralph can choose to remove our comments or exclude us altogether because we detract from quality discussion, you are correct. We do NOT have Constitutionally-guaranteed access to this particular blog, nor to have our letters published in a newspaper, & so on.

  27. Buffaloed Avatar

    I expected better form Obama but I have never been under the illusion that he was “liberal”. The thought of having McCain and Palin was much worse because we know that they are hostile to any kind of environmental policies.

    I dare say that Palin thinks that we can destroy everything because Gawd will rapture her out of the mess once it’s destroyed. I hope the rapture will come sooner rather than later so that we can get rid of the whack jobs who think that way and leave the rest of us in peace.

  28. Barb Avatar

    SAP: Of course I support first amendment rights. I was referring to Ralph’s right to remove any comments he wishes as this is a private blog.

  29. SAP Avatar


  30. vickif Avatar
    a very interesting read, and difinitive evidence that Mr. Ken Salazar is indeed in need of a few classes, or some of Salle’s eduction, on the basics of environmental science and the basic knowledge that there are umpteen hundreds of thousands of Americans who are not ranchers and who are environmentally motivated.

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Brian Ertz