Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, Will Be Named As New Secretary Of The Interior

News outlets reported this morning that President Obama will name Sally Jewell, CEO of the outdoor company REI, as his next Secretary of the Interior.  As the Washington Post wrote, Jewell:

…has earned national recognition for her management skills and support for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation.  In 2011 Jewell introduced Obama at the White House conference on “America’s Great Outdoor Initiative,” noting that the…outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs.

The Department of the Interior is the agency responsible for the management of 700 million acres of public lands onshore, in addition to nearly a billion acres offshore.  It oversees areas important to American culture and history, like national parks and national seashores, in addition to a significant amount of fossil and renewable energy development like solar energy and offshore wind.

Jewell, if confirmed by the Senate, embodies the true meaning of conservation in the 21st century.  At the helm of a $2 billion dollar company, she understands the economic value of conservation that requires it to be on equal ground with energy development on public lands.  This type of leadership is particularly important in a time of changing climate.

But a steady chorus is growing to encourage a better balance between energy development and conservation when it comes to public lands and
waters.  In fact, just yesterday, former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt called on the current administration to permanently protected one acre for every one leased for oil and gas development.  He noted that:

So far under President Obama, industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas. Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected.  This lopsided public land administration in favor of the oil and gas industry cannot continue.

There are a number of important and controversial decisions regarding public lands and waters that are upcoming.  But the nomination of Sally Jewell seems to indicate a recognition that other uses of public lands and waters like scenery, conservation, clean air and water, and their role in adaptation to climate change are just as important—especially economically—as energy development.

12 Responses to Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, Will Be Named As New Secretary Of The Interior

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama just had to pick someone with serious oil industry ties, it seems.

    The Public Lands Team didn’t even mention Jewell’s oil and banking career, and then meekly accepted the bone of possible equal consideration for recreation on public lands. Where does it say that we have to drill and mine for coal on BLM and Forest Service land? This is not these lands’ original charge, which was to care for them for future generations.

    Now, it seems, drilling, clearcutting, and mining are the true uses of public lands, given to the private sector by their buddies in government.

    Who are we now? Kazakhstan?

  2. Sasparilla says:

    Very light digging finds this in her background: “Jewell worked for Mobil oil company before spending 20 years working in banking including positions at Rainier Bank, Security Pacific and Washington Mutual.”, although that was all done by 1997 I believe.

    We do have to step back and ask ourselves, after previous nomination Ken Salazar, who do we realistically expect the President to nominate… Overall I think maybe she’ll be an improvement over Salazar from a climate perspective (have to wait and see how much more public land is opened up to coal mining and oil drilling during her term)…the position is very beholden to the fossil fuel industries….but it’ll probably just be an improvement, it’s Obama’s administration after all (not someone who’s serious about climate change).

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    They couldn’t find an ecologist or a competent scientist. It just has to be a ‘busyness’ person, because, God only knows, they represent Homo economicus in all his glory.

  4. Charles says:

    REI is a great company and Jewell’s ties to the recreation industry just might be enough to override her past experience in the oil and banking fields. I say we need to give her our support.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Hope’ springs eternal. Obama represents the ‘Triumph of ‘Hope’ over experience’.

  6. Maybe it is time for a Ronald Reagan quote: “Trust, but verify.” You are what you do. If you kill someone, you are a killer. If you ecocide, you are a mass murderer.

  7. Sasparilla says:

    A little more detail:

    “noting that Jewell was a University of Washington undergraduate studying to be a dentist when she “realized her boyfriend’s homework was more interesting than hers, and she decided to become an engineer” and “went on to work in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado.””

    Just what the doctor ordered! That said, this is a position that is mostly beholden to the fossil fuels industry and she has a “green” sheen because her massive company sells outdoor gear – the Obama Administration gave the coal and oil industries much of what they wanted from Interior previously (one of our many OMG, they can’t be doing that moments from the last 4 years). So this will probably be an inconsequential appointment.

  8. Sasparilla says:

    Now Mulga, lets not be pessimistic, Obama just needs some more time (another 4 years or so) before he gets serious on climate change. ;-)

    Although, to be fair, the President may be doing something better based on the recent chatter (still trying to decide if this is just made up or if he might really kill the XL etc. and change the trajectory of things here in the U.S. which would be a change for the good if he comes through).

  9. Ozonator says:

    Sally Jewell’s first test. “Overwhelmed with damage to water systems in brutally freezing temperatures, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is asking for volunteers to help with repairs and is seeking up to $2.8 million in funding from various government agencies … “People with health risks don’t have running water, some communities have low water pressure that are putting health centers and hospitals at risk of closure. We are facing an emergency that is putting lives at risk.” … It’s the latest move in a fruitless two-month-long battle … “We have 10,000 people without water, and we need all the help we can get right now”“ (“Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly Seeks $2.8 Million in Water-Damage Funding”; ICTMN Staff;, 2/5/13).

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That ‘chattering’ is the sound of emvironmentally rational citizens left out in the cold, yet again, by the nabobs of Washington power politics.

  11. Chris says:

    “Where does it say that we have to drill and mine for coal on BLM and Forest Service land? This is not these lands’ original charge, which was to care for them for future generations.”

    Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, BLM lands are to be managed “so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people.”

    The Federal Land Use Policy Act of 1976 requires what’s known as MUSY — multiple use and sustained yield.

    Conservation and economic development are to be given equal consideration when making management decisions for BLM lands.

  12. Sasparilla says:

    Yes, that’s what its been for these last 4 years – I remember the recent chattering about a carbon tax to get us out of the Bush Tax cut expiration issue with even some Republicans at least listening to it – and then the Admin came out screaming they’d never do one. Then they said that again after the President’s speech the other day.

    But we’ll see what happens with the XL and what the president talks about at his address – if its just business as usual we won’t hear anything but generalities and the XL will get approved – at that point we’ll know how things will be for the next 4 years and it’ll be on to 2016 and the next Climate Change action Democrat (like this one) – but there’s a chance Obama might actually want to do something good here, so I’ll wait and see (we won’t have to wait for long).