At a Glance
- Career History: BP plc, General Manger for Social Investment Programs and Strategic Partnerships; Director of Global Health, Safety, Environment & Emergency Response; Vice President for Health Safety and Environment (2001-2009); Interior Department, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (2000-2001)
- Hometown: Sante Fe, NM
- Alma Mater: University of New Mexico, B.U.S., 1981; University of New Mexico, M.P.A., 1989
- Web site
Path to Power
Baca's career in government began in New Mexico. She went to school in Albequerque, at the University of New Mexico, and earned a master's in public administration.
In New Mexico, she held a series of positions on the state and city level that focused on the government's spending. She oversaw a minority and small-business development program, worked on the staff of the state's Legislative Finance Committee, which offers recommendations on budget issues and oversees performance audits, and was the director of finance and management for the city of Albuquerque.
Baca's work in both the public and private sectors puts her at the crossroads of exactly the kinds of issues facing energy regulators: how to balance energy extraction with safety and environmental concerns. Her work with BP also raised questions about the role of former private-sector employees in the Obama-era regulatory system.
At Interior, Baca is barred from regulating or overseeing BP, her former employer, and DOI has made it clear that Baca is responsible for on-shore drilling, not the off-shore drilling that led BP to spill millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf Coast in 2010.
Baca served under Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. While Baca was at BP Shipping and at BP America, those branches of the company were run by Bob Malone, a former BP executive who is a director at Halliburton and at Peabody Energy Corporation.
Some of Baca's former employees are also still working on energy and environmenta; issues. Mike Pool, the deputy director for operations at Interior's Bureau of Land Management, was Baca's special assistant during her first stint at DOI. Kim Harb, a senior counseler at BLM, now works for the National Oceanic Industries Association, which represents energy interests in the outer continental shelf.
Baca donated $2,300 to then-Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. In 2006, she supported Jim Baca (no relation), a former BLM commissioner and former Albuquerque mayor, in a New Mexico race for Commissioner of Public Lands.