DENVER (AP) – Supporters of former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are welcoming him back to Colorado.

Sen. Michael Bennet is among the hosts of a reception in Denver on Friday for Salazar, the former Colorado state attorney general and U.S. senator.

The Colorado native will start work next week as a partner for the international law firm WilmerHale, which is opening an office in Denver. He’ll work on environmental, energy and tribal cases as well as offer strategic advice to clients.

“This is where the top lawyers are in America, and they share my values and my commitment to social justice,” Salazar said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

He didn’t know which clients he would represent yet and didn’t directly answer when asked whether he could end up opposing the Obama administration on energy issues.

Salazar said he would strive to be a “peacemaker” on contentious energy issues and credited his policies as interior secretary for helping decrease the country’s reliance on imported energy.

As secretary, he tightened oversight of offshore drilling following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, pushed for renewable energy such as solar and wind and helped settle a longstanding dispute with American Indians.

WilmerHale worked for BP after the spill, but Salazar told The Denver Post that money made from the company will be segregated and he will not benefit from it.

“I said in 2010 I will put by boot on the neck of BP. … I am not going to represent BP, and I’m not going to make any money from BP now or ever,” he told the newspaper, which first reported his new job.

WilmerHale has had other large corporate clients, such as Citigroup and Proctor & Gamble, but it also is known for its pro bono work, including representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners and assisting South African lawyers who fought apartheid. Lawyers from the firm also served as special counsel to former presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

The firm has about 1,000 lawyers in 14 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Their practices include securities law and regulatory and intellectual property work in addition to representing clients in trials.

On June 13, Salazar will be back in Washington to be honored by the Wilderness Society. He’ll receive the group’s annual Ansel Adams Award.

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