Salazar: National Park Service Criticism 'Wrongheaded'

Charles Dharapak/AP

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took a swipe Thursday at Republicans who have called out the National Park Service for shutdown closures they claim are politically motivated. "It's wrongheaded and unfair that there are some Republicans who are targeting the National Park Service," Salazar said. "The approach that's being taken by criticizing the public servants who are doing their jobs here is wrongheaded."

Salazar, who held the position for four years under President Obama, spoke on a Center for American Progress press call along with Lynn Scarlett, deputy Interior secretary under President George W. Bush. Scarlett also offered support to Interior employees who have taken heat during the shutdown. "We need to honor the rules and give encouragement to the federal employees who need to abide by the rules," she said.

Two GOP-led House committees are planning a hearing next week to question the National Park Service on how the shutdown has been conducted.

Salazar also rejected the piecemeal approach put forward by Republicans to fund some aspects of government, including the national parks. Congress should fund "not some of it—all of it," Salazar said.

The shutdown is having an impact on energy development, Salazar said, especially on the Gulf Coast. Some drilling permits have slowed, and leasing auctions have been canceled. "The sooner Congress moves to fund the government, the better off it's going to be for the energy future of the country."

The former officials also lamented setbacks to hunters, vacationers, and tribal communities on federal land. "There's a lot of frustration among the public that many of their favorite places are closed," Scarlett said.

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