United States Secretary of the Interior Kenneth (“Ken”) Lee Salazar made a surprise appearance at this year’s Uinta Basin Energy Summit. The Interior Department’s recent policies affecting Utah’s oil and gas industry have been very constricting in recent years and the atmosphere at the meeting shed great light on the frustration felt by many in Utah.
Mr. Salazar was not scheduled to speak at the conference but was allowed a few moments to address the group of about a hundred in attendance. However, the crowd appeared quite hostile to his remarks. When the secretary entered the room, only about a third of the people applauded, and the applause given was very reserved. The secretary spoke briefly and avoided some important issues to Utah’s energy industry such as the sharp decrease in public lands offered for leases since the Obama Administration took control. Instead, Mr. Salazar spent his time touting a new dinosaur museum out in Vernal and the benefits it would bring for tourism in Uintah County.
Then, Mr. Salazar closed his remarks and left the meeting in a hurry. Passing a group of protesters in front of the building where the summit was held who appeared quite angry with the Interior Department’s land policies, Mr. Salazar left the area and traveled down to Moab where he was received more kindly.