Letters From the West

Jewell takes the helm at Interior

sally-jewellSally Jewell spent her first full day as the 51st Secretary of the Interior meeting employees and holding meetings energy development, conservation, Indian Affairs and youth engagement.
Jewell spoke as she entered the historic Interior building highlighting the importance of her job to the nation’s economy.
“Our public lands are huge economic engines for the nation,” Jewell said. “From energy development to tourism and outdoor recreation, our lands and waters power our economy and create jobs.”
Jewell was officially sworn in on Friday at the Supreme Court with retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor administering the oath of office. O’Connor and Jewell worked together on the National Parks Second Century Commission, an independent commission charged with developing a twenty-first century vision for the National Park Service.
As Secretary of the Interior, Jewell leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees that controls 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands. She oversees energy development on public lands and waters and leads the agencies that are the largest supplier and manager of water in 17 Western states and is required to uphold trust responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Here’s her statement:

“It is an honor and a privilege to join you at the Department of the Interior. I am most appreciative of your commitment to public service and I look forward to working with such a dedicated group of individuals.

Over the course of my career, I have had an opportunity to see firsthand the importance of the Department’s work on the day-to-day lives of Americans and its impact on our economy. I started in the oil and gas industry – working on the Alaska Pipeline through college, then in the oil fields of Oklahoma, and in an exploration and production office based in Denver – where I grew to appreciate the role that the Government plays in making lands and waters available for economic development while at the same time acting as a steward for future generations. 

In my time as a banker, I had the privilege of working work with many Indian tribes, Alaska Native Corporations, ranchers, farmers, miners, timber companies, fish processors, utilities, manufacturers, and many others who rely on our Nation’s public lands and waters. My experience as CEO of REI over the last 8 years has taught me that the connection between Americans and our public lands is something that renews us as a people while playing a huge role in our Nation’s economy.

Throughout my career I have come to appreciate the hard work of everyone here at the Department to carry out our important missions. It is with deep humility that I acknowledge the scale of the duties entrusted to me – from upholding our trust responsibilities to American Indians and Alaska Natives, supporting the unique needs of our Insular Areas, and making difficult decisions about the use and conservation of the resources with which we are blessed.

I recognize that I am starting the job during a particularly tough fiscal climate. I appreciate that tight budgets and uncertainty about the future have very real consequences that affect your ability to carry out your job. I want you to know that I will be your advocate as we work through these difficult issues as we are asked to do more with less.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, I look forward to learning a tremendous amount from you and sharing that wisdom with our elected officials and communities as we work on some of the most consequential issues of our time. Whether out on our public lands, in one of your offices, in Indian Country, or in America’s great outdoors, I look forward to getting to know you and supporting your important work.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West