Interior nominee: Balance is main goal

Interior Secretary-designate Sally Jewell touted her business experience as helping her to bring together people with disparate points of view as she testified Thursday before a Senate panel.

“I’ve been a convener of people with perhaps different interests,” Jewell said when questioned by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., about balancing competing interests of solitary concerns such as backcountry adventurers and major events such as bicycle races.

Jewell, chief executive officer of REI, a major seller of outdoor recreational equipment, said she has been able to find common ground “where there is any to be found” among hunters, anglers, mountain bikers, off-highway vehicle users and industry.

She testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The National Park Service has rejected proposals for competitive bicycle races over Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument as being outside the park’s mission. National Park Service officials are setting up the framework for a process by which proposals for use of the monument use can be evaluated.

President Barack Obama nominated Jewell to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Jewell has previously worked as a petroleum engineer and banker. She also serves on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Jewell told Udall she would work with him to funnel money into the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which she described as a “brilliant piece of legislation” that “has been critical in every county across the country” since it was founded in 1964.

The fund is to provide up to $900 million a year from oil and gas resources to provide money and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of open space, parks and related uses, but it has been fully funded just twice during its existence.

Jewell stressed her background in the energy industry, remarking at one point, “It’s been a while since I fracked a well; I think it was 1979.”

She remains familiar with the principles of hydraulic fracturing, however, she said.

She said she also supports the president’s “all-of-the-above” plan for domestic energy.

Jewell several times stressed the need for consensus-building in dealing with a variety of issues faced by the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies.

Jewell also said she would consult with ethics advisers on how to handle issues such as suits brought by the National Parks Conservation Association against the Interior Department.

Pressed at one point to comment on the need for a carbon tax, Jewell said the president isn’t seeking one and that “I’m not in a position to take a position.”


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