Sally Jewell, chief executive of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), won easy Senate confirmation Wednesday (April 10) to be the nation’s next interior secretary.
According to a Boston Globe report, the Senate approved her nomination 87 to 11, with all the no votes coming from Republicans. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, was among those who opposed Jewell.
Jewell will oversee more than 500 million acres of national parks and other public lands, plus more than 1 billion acres offshore. The lands are used for energy development, mining, recreation, and other purposes.
One of the first challenges Jewell will face is a proposed rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
Jewell also is expected to continue to push development of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, both of which are priorities of the interior secretary she succeeds, Ken Salazar.
President Obama nominated Jewell last month to replace Salazar, who announced his departure in January.
Obama said in a statement Tuesday that Jewell’s extensive business experience — including her work as a petroleum engineer — and her longtime commitment to conservation made her the right person for the job.
‘‘She brings an important mix of strong management skills, appreciation for our nation’s tradition of protecting our public lands and heritage, and a keen understanding of what it means to be good stewards of our natural resources,’’ Obama said.
Jewell, 57, of Seattle, also was a banker before taking over Kent, Wash.-based REI in 2005.
The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has endorsed President Obama’s nomination today (Feb. 6) of Sally Jewell as the new Secretary of the Interior, succeeding Ken Salazar.
In a statement, ARC stated, “The recreation community is delighted by the President’s nomination of Sally Jewell to lead national conservation and recreation efforts as Secretary of the Interior. Sally is widely respected for her intelligence, her passion and her leadership skills. She has invested heavily with her time as a leader on the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, has supported use of the outdoors as a tool for better health and for stronger, sustainable communities. And she has worked actively through REI, through recreation industry organizations and personally to connect younger, more urban and ethnically diverse Americans to our share legacy of parks, forests, refuges and other outdoor treasures.”
Jewell is CEO of Recreational Equipment (REI).
The choice of Jewell, who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company, represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West, the Washington Post reported.
But while she boasts less public policy experience than other candidates who had been under consideration, Jewell, who will have to be confirmed by the Senate, 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 $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs.
Jewell would take over at a time when many conservationists are pressing Obama to take bolder action on land conservation. Salazar devoted much of his tenure to both promoting renewable energy on public land and managing the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
There has been concern from some that she lacks the political experience and broad knowledge of the issues confronting the sprawling department. Its responsibilities include management of public lands; oil, gas and timber production; fish and wildlife; tribal lands; and federal policy on places such as Guam, the Northern Marianas and Samoa.