Jewell confirmed as interior secretary

WITH an 87-11 vote, the US Senate has confirmed outdoor clothing group REI chief executive officer Sally Jewell is the nation’s Secretary of the Interior.
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Sally Jewell

Donna Schmidt

All of the “no” votes came from Republicans, including senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

In her new seat, Jewell will have responsibility for the oversight of more than 500 million acres of national parks and other public lands, including such national treasures as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

She will also look over more than 1 billion acres of offshore property used for energy development as well as mining and other activities.

Many political media outlets, including the Huffington Post, speculated that Jewell would continue the work of previous interior secretary Ken Salazar and push for the advancement of renewable energy technology development including wind and solar power.

Jewell, who was a petroleum engineer prior to joining REI and helped evolve the retailer into an environmentally conscious company, was first nominated to the position by President Barack Obama in February.

Understandably, there has been a lot of interest in her appointment from both the environmental and the energy sectors.

The response from the energy sector just after the announcement was cautiously positive. The Western Energy Alliance was one that provided its support.

“Her experience as a petroleum engineer and business leader will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” WEA president Tim Wigley said.

“We hope to see a better balance of productive development on non-park, non-wilderness public land that enhances the wealth of America and creates jobs while protecting the environment.

“Oil and natural gas companies have achieved that balance in the west – delivering 18 per cent of American oil and 26 per cent of natural gas production while disturbing less than 0.07 per cent of federal lands.”

One group admittedly “excited” about the confirmation – environmental group the Sierra Club.

“The Sierra Club is excited that a leader who understands the higher purpose that public lands hold for American families will now lead the agency charged with being our national steward for those very places,” executive director Michael Brune said.

“Whether she is summiting mountains, tirelessly working to get kids outside, or building a billion-dollar, 11,000 employee business based on our national passion for our wild places, Sally Jewell has demonstrated a deep appreciation for protecting our natural legacy for recreation, adventure, and enjoyment.

“The Sierra Club’s 2.1 million members and supporters look forward to standing by her side on efforts to build on recent momentum by designating new national monuments, reforming our flawed coal leasing program and ensuring the recent suspensions of Arctic drilling by Shell and ConocoPhillips are permanent.”

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