Friday, February 8, 2013

President Obama Nominates New Interior Department Secretary, Sally Jewell

On February 6th, President Obama named REI CEO, Sally Jewell to take the position. Ms. Jewell worked for Mobil Oil after obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering. She then led Washington Mutual commercial banking division for 19 years. She took over as CEO of REI in 2005; the company now makes $2 billion in sales per year.

President Obama’s selection of Ms. Jewell drew mostly positive responses. Environmental groups and conservation advocates are pleased to see a nature enthusiast nominated for the Department of Interior position. (It is reported that Ms. Jewell went on a month long hike in Antarctica.) Oil and gas industry representatives were pleased to see that her history included resource development.

However, there was some reluctance to her nomination. Senator Murkowski of Alaska, the senior Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee commented on Ms. Jewell’s lack of a political career, stating, "I look forward to hearing about the qualifications Ms. Jewell has that make her a suitable candidate to run such an important agency." There is an air of mystery as to the direction she will take the department which causes concern. Also, one House Republican subcommittee chairman shared concerns about Ms. Jewell’s link to REI and their “radical political agendas.” REI has supported groups such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and has promoted a bill intended to add wilderness protections to millions of acres of land in Utah.

President Obama said, “She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress, that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.” NRDC President Frances Beinecke stated, "Sally Jewell has the mind of an engineer, the heart of an environmentalist and the know-how of a businesswoman,” Salazar will step down in March and Ms. Jewell will begin her work as Secretary of the Department of Interior.

Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant

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