Former Interior chief Salazar lands new gig

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has become a partner and law firm WilmerHale.

Salazar will open a Denver office for the firm, which Salazar told The Denver Post was one of about 20 companies that sought his services.

He said he was drawn to WilmerHale because of its penchant for social justice — it has represented former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela — and the quality of its lawyers.

"For me, to have come from the place that I came from and to have lived this life of dreams, this is now a professional capstone as a lawyer," Salazar said.

Salazar left Interior in April after serving the Obama administration for four years. Sally Jewell now runs the agency.

Salazar pushed efforts to develop more renewable energy on public lands, including wind and solar, and set the groundwork for the nation’s first offshore wind lease sale, which was announced this week.

Salazar also played a key role in the response to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, helping lead an overhaul of Interior’s offshore drilling oversight and management.

Salazar’s policies often put him at odds with Republicans and industry.

They said Interior kept too many federal lands off limits, and felt the six-month deepwater drilling freeze Interior imposed in the Gulf following the 2010 disaster was too heavy-handed.

Before joining the administration, Salazar was one of Colorado’s Democratic senators. Prior to that, he was the state’s attorney general.