Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today declined an appointment on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee--the panel that presides over all tax legislation--in order to keep his chairmanship of a

As a result, Grijalva will keep his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands in the House Natural Resources Committee, a position he has held since the beginning of the 110th Congress. He was appointed to the Ways & Means Committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the House Democratic Caucus last week.

Grijalva's district is home to several national parks, and a spokeswoman for Grijalva stressed that parks and public lands are what his home state of Arizona is known for.

Grijalva was floated as a possible Interior secretary in President-elect Barack Obama's new administration. News leaked yesterday that Obama offered the position to Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who accepted.

Grijalva has been a vocal critic of the Bush Interior Department, rigorously overseeing the activities of Secretary Dirk Kempthorne from his subcommittee post. Grijalva released a 23-page report in October criticizing some of the department's national park and public lands policies.

He has been particularly critical of its decision to allow uranium mining on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, which sits in the neighboring first congressional district that will be represented by freshman Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (D) in the 111th Congress. As a freshman, Kirkpatrick will presumably have less influence over administration policy than Grijalva. The southern rim is a popular tourist destination, and mining was opposed by local Native Americans.