Obama nominates oil and gas playmate Sally Jewell to replace Salazar

Sally Jewell. Getty Images.
Sally Jewell. Getty Images.


WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2012) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated outdoor business executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department.

Obama said Jewell, president and chief executive at REI, has earned national recognition for her support of outdoor recreation and habitat conservation. He also noted her experience as an engineer in oil fields and her record of achievement and environmental stewardship at REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor use.

“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress — that, in fact, those two things need to go hand and hand,” Obama said at a White House ceremony.

Jewell is the first woman nominated for Obama’s second-term cabinet

At REI, Jewell “has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet,” Obama said. Last year, REI donated nearly $4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the electricity used in the company’s stores comes from renewable sources.

Jewell, the first woman Obama has nominated for his Cabinet in his second term, would replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar if confirmed by the Senate. Salazar has held the post throughout Obama’s first term. He announced last month that he would step down in March.

Jewell, 56, emerged as a frontrunner for the Interior post in recent days, edging out better-known Democrats such as former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. The Interior job traditionally has gone to politicians from Western states. Salazar was a Colorado senator before taking over at Interior in 2009.

Jewell donated $5,000 to Obama’s re-election effort and has supported other Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Lack of diversity draws criticism

The White House faced criticism that the new Cabinet lacked diversity after Obama tapped a string of white men for top posts, but Obama promised more diverse nominees were in the queue for other jobs.

Jewell’s confirmation also would put a prominent representative from the business community in the president’s Cabinet. REI is a $2 billion-a-year company and has been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for.

Jewell was born in England, but moved to the Seattle area before age 4 and is a U.S. citizen.

In 2011, Jewell introduced Obama at a White House conference on the “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative, noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs. She also appeared at a 2009 White House event on health care.

Under Salazar, the Interior Department pushed renewable power such as solar and wind and oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium was lifted in October 2010, although offshore drilling operations did not begin for several more months.

The Interior Department: A massive operation

The Interior Department manages more than 500 million acres in national parks and other public lands, and more than 1 billion acres offshore, overseeing energy, mining operations and recreation. The department also provides services to 566 federally recognized Indian tribes.

Jewell’s nomination was hailed by conservation and business groups alike.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune called Jewell a champion in the effort to connect children with nature and said she has “a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans — recreation, adventure, and enjoyment.

The Western Energy Alliance, which represents the oil and natural gas industry in the West, also welcomed Jewell’s nomination.

“Her experience as a petroleum engineer and business leader will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Tim Wigley, the group’s president.

Wigley said his group hopes Jewell will work to develop oil and gas on non-park, non-wilderness public lands.

Jewell’s appointment comes as Democrats and environmental groups are urging Obama to step up efforts to conserve public lands in his second term.

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Tuesday that Obama should adopt a principle in which every acre of public land that is leased to the oil and gas industry is matched by an acre permanently protected for conservation or recreation.

Over the past four years, more than 6 million acres of public lands have been leased for oil and gas, compared with 2.6 million acres permanently protected, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Jewell, who is married with two grown children, was paid more than $2 million as REI’s CEO in 2011. She contributed $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up by Obama and the Democratic Party, according to federal election records. She has contributed to Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and a political action committee that supports Democrats.

Jewell also was on the board of directors of Avista Corp., a Spokane-based power utility, from 1997 through 2003. U.S. Securities and Exchange documents show that in her last full year as an Avista board member, Jewell held more than 15,600 shares in the utility and received $50,000 in director’s fees.

In 2004, federal prosecutors charged that Avista played a role in a 2000 deal that allowed then-energy giant Enron to sell a $3 million turbine to the northwest utility firm. Prosecutors did not criminally charge Avista, but said the utility agreed to buy the turbine before a larger deal was completed — a move that aided Enron in hiding the turbine deal from its auditors.

Jewell was on Avista’s audit and finance committee when the utility bought the turbine in 2000. Avista was not criminally charged in the Enron indictment and none of the utility’s officials, including Jewell, were cited in the charges. Avista officials at the time denied any knowledge of Enron’s internal moves.

Houston-based Enron collapsed in 2001 amid fraud and corruption charges.



How about this from the New York Times:

Ms. Jewell, if confirmed, would represent a different model, a corporate executive with experience in both resource exploitation and conservation.

This not what wild horses advocates will be pleased to hear.

And this from the President:

Mr. Obama referred to her South Pole adventures.

“And when Sally is confirmed, I’m willing to bet that she will be the first secretary of the interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak in her native Washington State and who once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica,” he said, “which is just not something I’d think of doing, because it seems like it’d be cold, and I was born in Hawaii.”

Um, Mr. President, I believe it takes a little more expertise than being able to climb mountains and selling hiking gear to manage the complex issues facing the US Department of Interior. It seems pretty obvious it is her oil and gas background he is interested in. Her Confirmation Hearing ought to be interesting. We will see how tough they are on her. The Oil & Gas lobby must be dancing in the streets.

7 thoughts on “Obama nominates oil and gas playmate Sally Jewell to replace Salazar”

  1. We went from Salazar, who has a neighbor that has been outed as a “kill buyer of wild mustangs” see this link: http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_21663663 to this woman? Sure she may have traveled and hiked the world, many of us have done that, and became CEO (basically) of what used to be a cooperative? Perhaps it is time for me to leave REI. What a shame as I grew up in the pacific northwest! Furthermore, the fight for the wild mustangs has been going on my entire lifetime. There was a great review / report done by the US GAO ( US government accountability office) http://www.gao.gov/assets/290/282664.pdf and for any lover of wild horses to see them being chased down by helicopters is absolutely inhumane (the above PDF document has such photos). It is against BLM’s own “rules” which the GAO correctly pointed out, however, after contacting the GAO about this document last year: I was asked two questions: was I with the press and for whom did I work? When I said “no one, I am a citizen” the GAO seemed shocked. They informed me that although they can “advise the BLM” the GAO report can only be used as advice as the GAO has no “legal authority.” That may be the case. Certainly, we, as citizens can vote and contact both the BLM as well as those folks in the GAO and our members of congress. I know many horse lovers throughout the world that view our Mustangs as precious and as worthy of saving as any species! How can that NOT be the case for our politicians? For our “environmental” groups that go to great lengths to save turtles, fish, plants but wait? our wild Mustangs are simply worth nothing more than to be sold for pet food or, if young enough, for human consumption? No. I didn’t accept this “ideal” when I was 8 years old and I shall not accept it now. Nor ever.


  2. If only Raul was not a member of the Democratic Progressive Caucus! This, according to his senior staff member with whom I spoke, is the reason that he could never be approved in the Senate for the Sec of the Interior Cabinet post. I would have loved him to have the job, as many Americans did, but the Republicans would never have confirmed him, according to Raul himself. But he is certainly one of our friends in the House, and can speak up for us with this new Secretary. Politics.. Reality.
    I have hopes that at least Sally Jewell will be more fair between the wild horses and burros and the welfare cattle ranchers. I do not believe that anything is going to stop energy exploration and production… It has been the aim of Presidents since Jimmy Carter to become “energy independent”. It is our National Goal since Reagan…mentioned by each one, Democratic and Republican, and unfortunately the energy companies have taken full advantage of their power. Is there a possibility that we, the Sec. of the Interior, the BLM and the Energy Companies could allow the Wild Horses to graze on their 6 million acres once the Producer (well, gas fracking unit, wind mills, or solar units) was in place and operating. I guess I see this as a possibility because in East Texas where I grew up with oil wells, and now in North Texas where there are gas fracking and storage units all around me, energy producers share the land with cattle and horses. Once they are in place and working, it is a very small numbered crew that checks on them; they work independently. I just believe that maybe we start at the top with some new ideas, while still fighting with the “local” BLM for humane care, and to find ways to leave the horses on their land.


  3. Quite the example of ignoring the majority of Americans again. In this scenario her only qualification is that she’s a woman. Obama screwed us by choosing Ken Salazar over Raul Grijalva in 2009…the results 1. the Deep Water Horizon (Grijalva was in favor of temporarily shutting down off shore oil platforms and installing new safety measures and equipment to avoid this kind of catastrophe. Salazar being the ass kisser said he was gung-ho for the President to increase oil production in this country immediately. So he got the nod.) The result…how many people died? How many species of animals suffered? How many human lives and business’ were impacted or destroyed?
    2. De-listing the Gray Wolf. After years of working tirelessly to restore them to their rightful place in the environment northern ranchers are now killing then by the truckload. 3. Tens of thousands of wild horses and burros rounded up, their families destroyed, their freedom lost forever at a cost to the American Taxpayer in the hundred’s of millions of dollars over the past 4 years. 4. The BLM, under the DOI, has now been caught selling wild horses to know kill buyers in direct violation of the law. Oh yes there’s an investigation going on…know who’s doing the investigating? The BLM’s own inspector general. YES the department is investigating itself. That makes a hell of a lot of sense doesn’t it?

    Now here comes Ms Jewell who I’m sure is a very nice person but what does she know of the intricacies of the WFRHB Act, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Public Lands Act etc? What does she know about ‘wild horses’?

    I note they keep referring to REI’s stewardship of the ‘land’…what about the animals? You know those living, breathing, creations of God who commanded we protect and preserve? Ken Salazar has only demonized and destroyed.

    Will Ms Jewell be any different once in office? Will she stand up to the lobbyist of the oil companies she used to work for? I’m not sure I want to take the chance. If only Rep Raul Grijalva was a girl!


  4. Does not bode well but never can tell. But not good that she is from a Big Time OIL background. Where will her allegiance be? Ha! Needs no answer. Conservation groups ok her? The Sierra Club IS anti-wild horse. Obama nominated Ms. Jewell over others, esp. Rep. Griljvada (D-AZ)? Mr. Grijalva had overwhelming support from the voting public, environmentalists, conservationists… AND fellow legislators. Well, hmmm, Sally Jewell has contributed Big Time $$$$ to Obama & the Democrats, as well as Big Time supporting Obama running for election. But geeeee, he does not need to worry anymore about elections~ However, it is obvious Obama cares NOT for nature, & very importantly, wildlife…*sentient *beings. Lastly, I’ve said it before & say it again, Salazar had a major role in this. Salazar was Big Time involved in oil & gas, etc., but Big Time has bloody hands from OUR wildlife: wild horses/burros, wolves, bison… He needs to keep the status quo on OUR public lands…& the killing!


  5. I hope she will help ban horse slaughter and stop the BLM roundups those horses are protected and should be allowed to go home and stay home where they belong. She will have to be the voices of the ones that don’t have one!!!


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