Christine Gregoire

When Ken Salazar announced he would step down as Secretary of the US Department of the Interior it created a difficult decision for President Obama and brought a campaign issue back to the fore. Regulating development on federally-owned lands – particularly for oil and gas drilling – is one of the most polarizing energy issues of the day and because this is a primary function at the Interior Department, the issue and the department’s role has exploded into the political arena.

The department’s mission: “The US Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.” The onshore and offshore acreage managed by Interior account for 30 percent of US natural gas output, 30 percent of the country’s oil production and up to 40 percent of US coal production. Keep reading →