By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau is stepping down from his role at the end of October, the Interior Department said in a statement on Wednesday, without giving a reason for his departure or saying how the vacancy would be filled.
The Washington Post reported earlier Beaudreau was leaving after two years in the number two spot and a total of 10 years at the agency to spend more time with family.
Earlier this year, Beaudreau signed the final approval for a scaled-back version of ConocoPhillips’ $7 billion Willow project to drill for oil and gas in Alaska, drawing cheers from the oil industry and criticism from environmental activists.
Beaudreau previously oversaw energy development programs at Interior during the administration of former President Barack Obama. He was the first person to lead the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore oil and gas activity.
Various environmental groups and progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders have criticized Beaudreau for being close to the fossil fuel industry, which they felt undermined his ability to tackle the issue of climate change.
When he used to be a partner in law firm Latham & Watkins, he represented numerous coal mining, oil and gas, pipeline development and mining companies, including TotalEnergies and BHP Group.
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday described Beaudreau as a valued counselor and friend, and said “his legacy will continue” at the department.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Tom Hogue)