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Getting To Know Ken Salazar

NAME: Ken Salazar

AGE: 53

NEW APPOINTMENT: Secretary of the Interior (expected)

OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Senator from Colorado (2005-present); Colorado's Attorney General (1998-2004); Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (1990-1994)

KNOWN FOR: Creating Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), a massive land conservation program funded through a state lottery; Acting as a member of the bipartisan Gang of 14, which helped push through several of Bush's judicial nominees; Criticizing the fast-tracking of oil shale leasing in Colorado.

CONTROVERSIES: He seems prone to picking poor allies. He supported Alberto Gonzales during hearings for his appointment as U.S. Attorney General. Also, he has a mixed environmental record. He supported a weak energy bill--as did Obama--in 2005, including an amendment opposing the raising of CAFE standards, and another seeking to remove tax breaks given to ExxonMobil and other big oil companies. He supported allowing concealed weapons in national parks. Also, he voted for further oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006. But he noted in a statement that he "share[s] a vision for an energy independent America, powered by renewable energy and a new generation of clean and energy efficient technologies." Over the years, the League of Conservation Voters has given him mixed reviews--a lifetime rating of 81, but a low of 73 percent in 2007.

TRIVIA: Currently one of only three Latino senators in D.C. The LA Times reports, "Salazar was not the first choice of some environmental groups, who had favored Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). A coalition of 141 environmental groups, biologists and other scientists launched an e-mail and letter-writing campaign in support of Grijalva." The same article notes that Salazar angered religious conservatives by calling James Dobson the "anti-Christ," a critique he later revised to "un-Christian."

--Seyward Darby