By Gloria Borger and Joe Sterling
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has informed President Obama that he intends to step down at the end of March, two administration sources said on Wednesday.
Salazar, a former Colorado senator, expects to return to his ranch and family in his home state, the sources said. President Obama nominated him for the job four years ago and he had been unanimously confirmed.
Salazar led the administration’s management of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
“Salazar has launched an aggressive reform agenda to restore Interior’s independence and integrity, overhauling offshore oil and gas development oversight and raising the bar on safety standards,” his biography on the Interior Department website said.
It said he “spurred a renewable energy revolution at Interior, with the largest solar energy projects in the world now under construction on public lands in the West and a dynamic plan for renewable energy in America’s oceans; led a bold agenda for American land conservation, partnering with communities to conserve our nation’s crown jewels; and tackled long-standing injustices in Indian Country.”
Salazar’s move comes amid criticism over Obama’s second-term Cabinet nominees. Obama has taken flak because major nominations have gone to white males.
The three prominent Cabinet positions with second-term openings — secretary of defense, secretary of the treasury, and CIA director — were previously held by white men. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan have been tapped for those posts, respectively.
While Obama’s record of appointing women to top posts doesn’t differ significantly from former President George W. Bush, many take the issue with Obama’s appointments since he ran as a champion of women’s issues during both of his presidential election campaigns, unlike his predecessor.
CNN’s Chief Politial Analyst Gloria Borger reported from Washington. CNN’s Joe Sterling reported from Atlanta.