Environmental advocates offered mixed reviews of Mr. Salazar, 53, a first-term Democratic senator who served as head of Colorado's natural resources department and the state's attorney general. He was not the first choice of environmentalists, who openly pushed the appointment of Representative Razl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, who has a strong record as a conservationist.
Oil and mining interests praised Mr. Salazar's record as a state official and as a senator, saying that he was not doctrinaire about the use of public lands for resource exploitation. "Nothing in his record suggests he's an ideologue," said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association. "Here's a man who understands the issues, is open-minded and can see at least two sides of an issue."
Pam Kiely, program director at Environment Colorado, said Mr. Salazar had been a champion of wilderness protection and strong water quality laws and a skeptic on oil shale development, a subject of controversy in the Mountain West. Ms. Kiely said she was unsure of his views on drilling in millions of acres of national forests and roadless areas.