Interior nominee has rich background

President Barack Obama listens as his Interior Secretary nominee, REI Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The nomination of Sally Jewell — most recently the chief executive of REI and once a petroleum engineer — won support from environmental organizations and some enthusiasm from an energy association.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated Jewell, who heads the outdoor-recreation industry giant, to replace Ken Salazar, who is retiring after serving as Obama’s only Interior secretary.

Jewell understands the nation’s conservation legacy “and how it is threatened by misguided public lands policies, such as the rampant expansion of oil and gas development in sensitive fish and wildlife habitats and shortsighted budget proposals to cut important conservation programs,” said Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, who also praised Jewell for realizing “firsthand that conservation equals jobs and how public lands fuel the recreation economy, including hunting and fishing.”

The Western Energy Alliance praised the appointment as well.

Jewell’s background as a petroleum engineer and banker “will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Tom Wigley, alliance president. “We hope to see a better balance of productive development on non-park, non-wilderness public lands that enhances the wealth of America and creates jobs while protecting the environment.”

U.S. Rep Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., both offered guarded reactions.

“I’m hopeful that if Sally Jewell is confirmed as Secretary of the Interior by the Senate, she will work to protect our precious open spaces, as well as the critical jobs tied to them,” Tipton said in a statement noting the importance of public lands to energy, water and world-class recreation.

Udall stopped short of endorsing Jewell, noting that as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, “I will have a hand in ensuring that Sally Jewell has the skills and policy acumen to carry out the important work of the Interior Department and uphold the legacy left by Ken Salazar and many others there.”

Jewell’s private-sector experience is a plus, Udall said, noting he looks forward “to speaking with her about her vision for managing our public lands and how she would attack the challenges we face in Colorado and the West.”

Much of the western Colorado economy is in Jewell’s hands, said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“As a former executive of a recreation-products company, Ms. Jewel knows firsthand that energy from the wellhead puts recreation and consumer products on the sales rack,” Ludlam said. “Her knowledge about the importance of oil, gas and domestic manufacturing will pave the way for energy policies that can help get western Colorado’s drilling rigs working again.”


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