Senate confirms Salazar, Chu as Interior, Energy secretaries

The US Senate confirmed Ken Salazar's nomination as Interior secretary and Steven Chu's nomination as Energy secretary on Jan. 20.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 21 -- The US Senate confirmed Ken Salazar's nomination as Interior secretary and Steven Chu's nomination as Energy secretary on Jan. 20.

Five more of President Barack H. Obama's key nominees also were approved: Thomas J. Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, Arne Duncan as Education secretary, Janet A. Napolitano as Homeland Security secretary, Eric K. Shinseki as Veterans Affairs secretary, and Peter K. Orszag as White House Office of Management and Budget director.

Salazar said in a statement following his confirmation that his first priority will be to lead the department with open decision-making, high ethical standards and respect for scientific integrity. "I will work for a more proactive and balance stewardship to protect our national parks and open spaces, restore our nation's rivers, resolve our water supply challenges and address the challenges faced by our Native American communities," he said.

Salazar called Obama's energy and environment strategy "our moon shot" for energy independence. "A national energy policy that includes conservation, expanded renewable sources, and wise responsible use of conventional fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas will create jobs here in America, protect our national security by reducing America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and confront the dangers of global warming," he said.

At his Jan. 13 confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Chu said the nation faces both global climate change and energy security threats. "Last year's rapid spike in oil and gasoline prices not only contributed to the recession we are now experiencing, it also put a huge strain on the budgets of families all across America," he said in his opening statement.

"Although prices are now lower, we know that our economy remains vulnerable to future price swings. We must make a greater, more committed push toward energy independence and with it a more secure energy system," Chu continued. He said Obama's energy plan is aggressive, but achievable, and that it would put the US on a course to a better energy and environmental future, create new jobs and industries, restore US energy technology leadership, and help form the foundation for future economic prosperity.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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