Frank! Kucinich! Salazar!

(Cross posted from 21st Century Democrats)

The 21st Century Democrats' Youth Leadership Speaker Series is off to a great start teaching and inspiring tomorrow's progressive leaders of the Democratic Party with speakers like Congressman Barney Frank, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and--soon--Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

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Locke and Salazar undo damage to Endangered Species Act

It's so refreshing to have a president whose administration sometimes produces good news below the radar. Earlier this week,

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced that the two departments are revoking an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule that undermined Endangered Species Act protections. Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species.

The Sierra Club's Lay of the Land blog provides some background:

On its way out the door, the Bush administration bulldozed through rulemaking protocol and effectively eliminated Section 7 from the Act.  This is the section that mandates independent scientific review for any project proposed by a government agency.  By eliminating this section, the authority to determine how a project would effect an endangered species would be not in the hands of the expert biologists at US Fish and Wildlife or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but rather in the hands of those who are proposing the project.  So essentially the Department of Transportation would be able to determine if the highway that they really want to build would negatively impact any endangered species.

The Democratic-controlled Congress deserves some of the credit for restoring the Endangered Species Act, because the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill approved in February empowered Locke and Salazar to revoke the Bush administration's rule change. In a Republican Congress, that kind of provision never would have made it into the omnibus bill.

Add this to your "elections have consequences" file.

The Sierra Club is calling for comments to Salazar thanking him for restoring the Endangered Species Act and urging him to withdraw another last-minute Bush administration rule:

As you know, another harmful and controversial rule was finalized in January which sought to limit protections given to Polar Bears under the Endangered Species Act.  This rule, designed to ensure that oil and gas drilling offshore could proceed in the polar bear's fragile Arctic environment, limits the extent to which science and the full range of cumulative impacts to the polar bear and its habitat can even be considered.  

I hope that you will continue to value the role of science by also taking advantage of the opportunity to withdraw the controversial polar bear rule.

Click here to send an e-mail message to Salazar, which you can personalize if you like.

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The Politics of Hope - Salazar Blocks Oil Shale Leases

"Those who have fantasized that oil shale is a panacea for America's energy needs have been living in a fantasy land." - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

There is more evidence today that we indeed have begun to reverse the gross malfeasance of the Bush Administration in their management of Federal lands and the nation's natural resources. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled oil shale development leases on Federal lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and announced that the Interior Department would first study the water, power and land-use issues surrounding the development oil shale. This is the third time since taking office that the Obama Administration has frozen late-term Bush decisions that sought to spur domestic energy development over objections from environmentalists.

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CO-Sen: Michael Bennet To Be Named Next Senator From Colorado

So say "sources."

From The Rocky Mountain News:

Denver Public Schools superintendent Michael Bennet is expected to be named Saturday as the future U.S. Senate replacement for Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar, according to two Democratic sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to name his U.S. Senate replacement pick on Saturday, ending a brief but frenzied period of speculation about who will take the seat of Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar.

Since Salazar's nomination by President-elect Barack Obama, speculation has swirled about potential replacements .

The selection would be preliminary, since Salazar is not expected to resign his U.S. Senate seat until sometime after Jan. 15, when he faces a confirmation hearing -- and later vote -- to become President-elect Barack Obama's first Interior Secretary.

A bio on Bennet can be found HERE. Chris Bowers has some thoughts HERE:

Bennet was short-listed for Secretary of Education last month, but ultimately did not receive the job. He is best known for revising a merit pay proposal in Denver so that it would be supported by local teachers. His only political contributions are to Barack Obama (maxed out), and $1,000 to an education and environmental advocate who lost to Jared Polis in the CO-02 primary.

While I am glad that Ken Salazar's Blue Dog younger brother did not receive the appointment, Bennet doesn't seem to be an exciting pick. Also, it is a little disappointing that, with Barack Obama becoming President and Ken Salazar becoming Secretary of Interior, the Senate appears to have gone from six minority members to only four.

By picking someone who does not currently hold elected office, Ritter is choosing to spare Colorado the need for any additional special elections or appointments but I suspect there will be a fierce primary in 2010 when Bennet will have to run to keep the seat.

Anyone with some more knowledge about Bennet care to fill in the blanks on the sort of Senator he is likely to be?

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Ken Salazar For Interior Secretary

The Denver Post is reporting that Colorado Senator Ken Salazar is on the short list for the post of President-elect Obama's Secretary of the Interior.

A source close to Obama's transition team told The Denver Post late last week that Salazar was under consideration for the Cabinet position.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said at the time it appeared that it was all but up to Salazar as to whether he wanted the post.

A second source close to the process also confirmed Sunday that Sala zar was a leading contender. The senator's spokesmen did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Reuters calls him the "leading contender."

The position, which is virtually always filled by someone from a Western state, is responsible for land use (Interior manages 1 out of every 5 acres of US land) and conservation issues. Prior to being Senator, Salazar was an environmental lawyer and served as Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources under Gov. Roy Romer.

Following in his pattern of appointing people with Democratic congressional majorities in mind, Obama, by picking Salazar, would, in the short term, anyway, ensure his seat would go to a Democrat and in the process remove one of the Republicans' favorite Senate Democrats and elevate the importance of newly elected Sen. Mark Udall, who is far more progressive than Salazar.

If Ken Salazar were to ascend to Obama's Cabinet, Gov. Bill Ritter, a fellow Democrat, would name his replacement. U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, an Eldorado Springs Democrat, would become Colorado's senior senator, even though he was elected to the Senate in November.

Presumably, Ken's brother, Congressman John Salazar, would be at the top of that appointment list. Whoever is appointed to the seat would then run for election to a full term in 2010.

Update [2008-12-15 19:52:24 by Todd Beeton]:CNN comfirms it's Salazar. And Lieberman's allies dwindle further...

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