The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a confirmation hearing last week to consider Sally Jewell's nomination for Interior Secretary. During the hearing, Jewell, CEO of Seattle-based Recreational Equipment, Inc.
(REI), said she supports an "all-of-the-above" strategy for energy development that would expand oil and gas production on public lands and waters. In addition to the expansion of wind and solar, Jewell would move forward exploratory drilling off the North Slope of Alaska and seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean.
If confirmed, the University of Washington graduate and avid sportswoman would be accountable for the management and conservation of federal land and natural resources.
Some Republican senators expressed concern over her relationship with the National Parks Conservation Association
, an advocacy organization whose goal is to protect and enhance America's National Parks. Jewell serves on the group's board of directors, which often sues the Interior Department over land-use decisions. Despite the connection, her answers to questions on climate change, the protection of endangered species and energy development were broad and noncommittal, and she repeatedly called for a balance between the exploitation of federal lands for resource development and preservation of wilderness areas.
Her "well-balanced" comments are widely circulating, and it seems like opinions on the could-be Secretary of the Interior are divided.
The Cut, a New York Magazine blog, recently suggested Jewell would be Obama's "most badass
" Cabinet member, noting REI's reputation as one of the most environmentally conscious companies in the world, Jewell's lack of experience in the political arena and her long career that spans realms typically occupied by men. Those professional experiences include time spent as a construction worker on the Alaska oil pipeline, as a petroleum engineer, commercial banker and her present role at REI.
On the flip side, The Telegraph recently reported
on her profitable ties to oil and coal companies with questionable ethical records. Financial records show that Jewell owns or recently owned up to $200,000 in shares in Chevron, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, though she promised to divest from all three and a number of other oil companies if confirmed. Her letter to the department's ethics office mentioned nothing about divesting from Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal firm.
Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who held the post throughout the President's first term, will leave the administration at the end of March.