Back in May, at tiny Slaughter Beach, DE, the place was abuzz not just with biting flides, but also with excitement.
The Secretary of the Interior was coming for a visit. It was the first time anyone could remember a cabinet member coming to the Bayshore. People showed up just for the novelty of it.
Salazar was there to announce the Bayshore's inclusion in the national "American Great Outdoors" initiative. He called the Bayshore "a landscape of national significance."
So today, with Salazar's announcement that he's going to leave the Interior Department by the end of March, the question arises as to whether the next Secretary will look so favorably on this extraordinary scape -- New Jersey's and Delaware's astonishingly wild shore in the middle of one of the most developed regions in the nation.
The Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in along the Bayshore was hammered in Hurricane Sandy. Will restoration there amd in similar places be a priority?
Salazar's Interior department has established seven national parks since 2009 -- but none sp far in Delaware, as officials there had hoped, and as they continue to work toward. Delaware is the only state without a national park.
"Ken recognized from the beginning that our state has a unique place in American history whose story is notably absent from the existing canon of our national parks," said Delaware's Sen. Tom Carper, a democrat, in a press release. "He’s been a champion for Delaware, and I deeply appreciate the many ways he has helped us get closer to securing a park, as well as his commitment to other priorities for the First State."
"Ken has been a leading voice for expanding alternative energy on federal lands. Specifically, I want to thank him and his team for their leadership on offshore wind. He has been a steadfast partner in ensuring that we can soon harness wind energy off the coast of Delaware and beyond. Also, Ken has been a powerful ally in conserving our precious natural resources, like the Delaware Bayshore, as well as investing in tourism and recreation. With Ken’s departure, Delaware is losing a key advocate, but I look forward to building on the partnership Ken helped forge between the Interior Department and Delaware – one that pushed our state to grow and thrive while securing our natural treasures for generations to come,” Carper said.
While alternative energy advocagtes praised Salazar, industry seems as if it couldn't be happier to see him leave.
Hercules Offshore Executive Jim Noe, head of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, said in a press release that "from the perspective of industry in the Gulf of Mexico, we remember the tough days that followed the Deepwater Horizon incident during which Secretary Salazar presided over a moratorium on permits that created significant uncertainty for energy production and energy security.
"While the Interior Department seemed to pursue long-shot energy alternatives, it created official and de facto moratoriums that hurt the industry, thousands of workers, and the small businesses and communities that depend upon them. The legacy of the Interior five-year plan has charted a course for the fewest lease sales in a generation," Noe said.
Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, said that the next secretary "must focus on realizing the potential of the Gulf, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of domestic oil production yet often suffers from regulatory uncertainty. The Gulf’s prospects ultimately depend on the Interior Department’s ability to finish the offshore reform process and implement clear regulations that encourage safe, responsible and efficient energy production. To do anything less will make it that much harder to realize America’s promising energy future."