Letters From the West

Senate confirms Jewell as Risch pulls hold over sage grouse

Sally Jewell, the REI CEO that President Obama nominated for Interior Secretary

Sally Jewell, the REI CEO that President Obama nominated for Interior Secretary was confirmed.

The Senate voted 87-11 Wednesday to confirm Sally Jewell as Interior Secretary.
Both Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted for Jewell’s confirmation. Risch had hold on her nomination that was lifted after she resolve his concern over the administration’s sage grouse policy.
“This hold was about getting a commitment from the Department of Interior to follow the best science available and support the collaborative effort that has been taking place to protect sage grouse in Idaho,” Risch said. “I wanted assurance that all agencies under Interior’s jurisdiction support accepting the best science available.”
Risch said the sage grouse issue is critical for 1800 ranchers who run cattle and sheep on public land in Idaho. Gov. Butch Otter is leading a collaborative effort with ranchers, state agencies, scientists and environmentalist to create a state management plan at the invitation of outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“Only by working together can we achieve solutions that are acceptable to all parties,” Risch said. “I am very pleased that Interior nominee Sally Jewel agrees with that approach.”
The Recreational Equipment Inc. CEO takes over as the nation’s top wildlife manager and is the landlord of more than 500 million acres of national parks, federal rangeland and wildlife refuges. That includes more than 16 million acres in Idaho, from the Owyhee Canyonlands to Yellowstone National Park.
Jewell, 57, would manage more than 600 dams and would be responsible for 68 percent of the nation’s oil and gas reserves and millions of acres of federal mining lands.
Her leadership in making the outdoor recreation industry a major voice for conservation helps make the environmental community consider her one of its own.
“I have no doubt that Sally Jewell will be an excellent steward of these wild places in the years to come,” said Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams.
The University of Washington engineering graduate began her career with Mobil, working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Wyoming before moving to the banking industry to oversee petroleum land investments.

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