Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will step down in March, Obama administration officials said Wednesday.
Salazar has run the Interior Department throughout President Barack Obama's first term and oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill.
The resignation is the second in the last two weeks from the only two Latinos on Obama's 15-person cabinet team. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis formally announced her resignation last week. That would mean that Obama would be left with no Latinos in his cabinet, unless he appoints someone else prior to Salazar's departure.
Salazar is the latest cabinet secretary to leave the administration as Obama heads into his second term.The others are, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before announcement of Salazar's plans.
A former senator from Colorado, Salazar pushed renewable power such as solar and wind, but gained the most attention for his role in the drilling moratorium, a key part of the administration's response to the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It was one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history and led to the unprecedented shutdown of offshore drilling.
Business groups and Gulf Coast political leaders said the shutdown crippled the oil and gas industry and cost thousands of jobs, even aboard rigs not operated by BP PLC.
But Salazar said the industry-wide moratorium was the correct call.
"I think we're in the right direction," he told The Associated Press during a July 2010 tour of the Gulf, adding that his ultimate goal was to allow deepwater operations to resume safely.
Salazar also approved the nation's first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind, off the Massachusetts coast.
On land, Salazar has promoted solar power in the West and Southwest, approving an unprecedented number of projects, even as oil and gas continue to be approved on federal land.
Salazar also oversaw the settlement of a multibillion dispute with Native American tribes that had lingered for more than a decade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.