New Secretary of Interior

Sally Jewell (center) at the White House with President Barack Obama (left), and Ken Salazar (right). / Photo by Pete Souza, courtesy of the White House

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

President Barack Obama nominated Sally Jewell, the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), to replace Ken Salazar as the new Secretary of the Interior, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

“She is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future,” Obama said. “She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country. She knows the link between conservation and good jobs.”

Jewell seems uniquely-qualified to bridge the divide between the Interior Department’s responsibilities to both protect the U.S. National Park Service, and to set rules for oil drilling across nearly a fifth of the U.S. and offshore.

Jewell is an outdoor enthusiast who climbed Mount Rainier when she was 16, and later climbed Mt. Vinson, the tallest mountain in Antarctica. She has won several environmental awards for her conservation efforts, and has been a leader in land conservation in the Pacific Northwest.

Jewell’s first job, after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington, was in the oil fields of Oklahoma working for the Mobil oil company.

Environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, and oil industry trade groups like the Western Energy Alliance, have come out in support of Jewell’s nomination.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said, “Her record shows that she understands the importance of preserving our public lands for future generations, as well as the critical links between public lands, natural resources, and economic growth.”

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised Jewell as a “champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” and also said he was proud of his work as a member of Obama’s cabinet.

Salazar said, “I’m proud of our historic work – and perhaps more proud of this than anything else – for the nation’s first Americans.”

“From resolving the longstanding conflicts like Cobell to delivery clean drinking water to places like the Navajo nation, you have given credibility, Mr. President, to the proposition that the nation’s first Americans, too, will share in the American Dream,” Salazar said.

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February 22nd, 2013

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