Women’s History Month: Why Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior Could be a Historic Win

Sally Jewell is a one-woman powerhouse. The REI CEO has just been approved by a bipartisan United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 19-3, according to the New York Times. Her next stop—a full review by the U.S. Senate.

“She is going to give each member of this committee her ear and her expertise that comes from having managed to pack a host of professional careers – petroleum engineer, C.E.O. and banker, to name just a few – into just one lifetime,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, told the committee.Jewell

Jewell’s diverse experience has made her a unique contender for the job. In comparison to her possible predecessor, former Senator Ken Salazar, Jewell has no government experience. However, just as Salazar made a historic impact by becoming one of the first Hispanics to earn a spot in the Senate, Jewell’s confirmation would make her the second woman to hold the Interior Secretary position.

An avid environmentalist these days, Jewell, 56, is not afraid to say that she started off as a petroleum engineer for Mobil Oil. Her range of experience provides her with a widened perspective. She has worked as a foreman for drill crews, an investment banker, and is now the CEO of a highly successful outdoor sports corporation. She’s a Jane of all trades—a banker, a boardroom member, and a mountain climber. She takes heed to both economic fronts and conservation efforts.

“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs,” President Obama said during Jewell’s nomination earlier this month. “She knows that there is no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress.”

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Her duty as Interior Secretary would include management of on- and off-shore drilling, overall energy use, and overseeing 1/5th of the country’s land—which includes national parks, wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Land Management holdings. Jewell has helped lead the way for advocating the exploration of the outdoors to more women, young people, and people of color.

But can she reinvigorate the U.S.’ interest in the outdoors?

Jewell is the only woman formally nominated for Obama’s second term Cabinet. If confirmed, she might end up serving her term with as few as only two other women within the administration.

As of yet, President Obama has protected less land than any of the previous four presidents, according to the Center for American Progress. By getting Jewell, a business-savvy woman in the Interior role, the GOP may ease their previous halt on conservation initiatives. And the outdoors industry expert could be the secret to getting Congress to finally act on climate change, a key initiative Obama raised during his State of the Union Address.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Aletha on April 2, 2013 at 1:16 am

    …there is no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress.

    If he meant by that there is no contradiction between being truly good stewards of the land and true economic progress, I might agree, but neither is happening under his Administration. What is happening is business as usual, painted green. I can only hope Ms. Jewell has some different ideas about good stewardship, because his are only good for those elite few he works for. However, her testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee does not bode well for that:

    Jewell tried throughout her confirmation hearing Thursday to strike a middle ground. She spoke repeatedly of her desire to balance development and conservation and embrace an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and renewables.

    Yes, it sounds like she and Obama are a match made in heaven, greenwashers extraordinaire. Notice how renewables are at the end of that list? This is what she calls balance? Could the backwards priorities of this Administration be any clearer? If that is not clear enough, how about that Cabinet, with one woman, if we are lucky? This is progress?

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