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Senator Bennett Backs Down; David Hayes Is Confirmed as Deputy Secretary of the Interior
On Wednesday night, May 21, 2009, the Senate confirmed David Hayes as Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior (see the press release). This ended a long-running spat between Utah Senator Bob Bennett and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar over the Secretary’s cancellation of the 77 leases issued in the waning days of the Bush Administration which SUWA fought to stop. SUWA and others obtained a temporary restraining order from a federal district court that stopped the issuance of those leases in January. A few weeks later Secretary Salazar decided to rescind the leases completely (see the timeline here). Because of this, Secretary Salazar encountered the wrath of Senator Bennett, who held up the confirmation of Mr. Hayes. Secretary Salazar said that if Mr. Hayes could be confirmed he would undertake a review of the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to offer those 77 leases (see Salazar's letter to Bennett), a commitment the Secretary had made from the moment he rescinded them. After lengthy stalling, Senator Bennett finally backed down and Mr. Hayes was confirmed.
Senator Bennett, in an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear tried to claim victory (see his press release). However, as explained previously, Secretary Salazar is simply promising to do what he has always maintained he would do: review whether any of the 77 leases should have been offered. We welcome this review.