Salazar’s four years leading the Interior Department were marred by the April 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and dumped 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. Environmentalists criticized Salazar for his slow response to the disaster, while industry representatives chided him for shutting down offshore drilling for nearly a year.
In the end, more and tighter regulations were applied to drillers, but more offshore acreage was made available under Salazar. There is more drilling activity in the Gulf today than there was prior to the 2010 disaster.
Salazar also authorized 34 alternative energy projects that added a total of 10,400 megawatts to U.S. electricity generating capacity and established rules for the country’s first offshore wind farm.