Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leaving Obama administration in March

President Obama thanks Salazar for his service

WASHINGTON - President Obama thanked Ken Salazar for his hard work as Interior Secretary, after Salazar announced Tuesday he will step down from the position in March.

"As the Secretary of the Interior, Ken has helped usher in a new era of conservation for our nation’s land, water, and wildlife," the President said. "I look forward to receiving his counsel even after he returns to his home state of Colorado."

Salazar has run the Interior Department throughout President Obama's first term.

Salazar pushed renewable power such as solar and wind, but gained the most attention for his role in the drilling moratorium after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It was one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history and led to the unprecedented shutdown of offshore drilling.

Before joining the Cabinet, he served as Colorado Attorney General and a United States Senator.

“Colorado is and will always be my home. I look forward to returning to my family and Colorado after eight years in Washington, D.C.,” said Secretary Salazar. “I am forever grateful to President Obama for his friendship in the U.S. Senate and the opportunity he gave me to serve as a member of his cabinet during this historic presidency.”

Salazar did not mention what he plans to do once he returns to Colorado.

Salazar is the latest Cabinet secretary to leave the administration as Obama heads into his second term. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are also leaving.

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