Cantwell Introduces Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewell at Senate Confirmation Hearing
Cantwell praises CEO of REI for her pragmatism and business leadership, questions her on issues impacting Indian Country
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) strongly endorsed Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Department of Interior during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee hearing on her nomination.
Cantwell introduced Jewell at the witness stand, before taking her own seat alongside the other members of the ENR Committee to consider Jewell’s nomination. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was also at the hearing this morning to deliver opening remarks to the committee in support of Jewell. Jewell is president and chief executive officer of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) and hails from Washington state.
Later in the hearing, Cantwell also asked Jewell about issues impacting the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which would fall under Jewell’s jurisdiction if confirmed as Interior Secretary. Cantwell secured a commitment from Jewell that she would protect treaty rights and incorporate Tribal input into resource use decisions. Cantwell also asked Jewell about increasing energy production on Tribal lands as well as diversifying renewable energy production on public lands. Cantwell is Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
“It’s great to be here to help introduce a longtime friend, Sally Jewell,” Cantwell said at today’s hearing. “She’s been a leader in business – from oil fields of Oklahoma to commercial banking to running REI for the last eight years – and she has been a success at whatever she tackles. Under Sally’s leadership REI has grown from 2006 to 2011 and opened 77 new stores and boosted sales 62 percent in very tough economic times. I’d like that kind of leadership at the Department of Interior.
Cantwell continued: “We all know that the Interior Department faces many challenges … there is a myriad of things that I think need to have someone who can forge real solutions. And I think Sally Jewell is that person. Having grown up in the state of Washington where over 40 percent of our land is public land, I guarantee you that she understands these Western issues. So I am confident that combining knowledge with her training as an engineer, Sally will bring a very pragmatic, can-do worldview to the Interior’s management and problem-solving challenges. Science will be her compass, not an ideological bent.”
Watch a video of Cantwell’s remarks today.
Cantwell’s complete remarks as delivered are pasted below, followed by a transcript of Cantwell’s Q&A with Jewell on issues impacting Indian Country:
Cantwell’s Opening Remarks:
Thank you Mr. Chairman and it’s a pleasure to be here with my colleague Senator Murray before this committee. So I want to thank you and Ranking Member Murkowski for holding this important hearing. And it’s great to be here to help introduce a longtime friend, Sally Jewell.
First, I want to publicly thank her for willingness to serve in this challenging position. And I also see that her husband Warren is here today. And so I thank him as well because it goes without saying that these are challenging not only on the person who does the job but family members as well. So I certainly appreciate her family’s support. I also know how hard it is to leave the beautiful Northwest and come here to this Washington.
But it’s the kind of leadership that Sally represents that we need most in Washington. Senator Murray said it, balance. And it’s a very good word to describe Sally Jewell. Not only is she the CEO of a rapidly growing company, she also serves on the University of Washington Board of Regents, and the board of the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association.
She’s been a leader in business – from oil fields of Oklahoma to commercial banking to running REI for the last eight years – and she has been a success at whatever she tackles. Under Sally’s leadership REI has grown from 2006 to 2011 and opened 77 new stores and boosted sales 62 percent in very tough economic times.
I’d like that kind of leadership at the Department of Interior. We all know that the Interior Department faces many challenges ranging from – how to figure out the best use of our public lands, to the various legal challenges the department faces, to modernizing our bureaucracy, to thinking about climate and deep-water drilling – so there is a myriad of things that I think need to have someone who can forge real solutions. And I think Sally Jewell is that person.
Having grown up in the state of Washington where over 40 percent of our land is public land, I guarantee you that she understands these Western issues. Whether it’s water rights, salmon recovery, understanding the impact on water levels, fire seasons, wildlife on BLM lands, or the importance of public access to hiking and hunting and fishing, I guarantee you that Sally Jewell has read about these. And has been involved in organizations addressing these issues and has tried to provide a leadership role.
I would also note to Ranking Member Murkowski because I know how important all these issues are particularly to the state of Alaska that I think this nominee has probably had more experience dealing with Alaska in a variety of ways than anybody we’ve since Alaska Governor Hickel served in this position 40 years ago.
So I am confident that combining knowledge with her training as an engineer, Sally will bring a very pragmatic, can-do worldview to the Interior’s management and problem-solving challenges. Science, science will be her compass, not an ideological bent. Given the importance of the Interior Department’s agencies and very challenging missions I’m especially excited to have someone with her business background but her science and engineering background at the Department of Interior.
So as a longtime member of this Committee, I very much appreciate the challenges that every member of this committee faces when it comes to the Interior Department. I too as Senator Murray outlined, have some of those issues we’d like to ask about. But I hope you will agree that Sally Jewell is the right person for this job.
Oftentimes I’ve run into Sally at 10,000 feet or followed her blog as she climbed Mount Vinson, the highest mountain in Antarctica. I guarantee you this woman knows how to climb mountains. Thank you Mr. Chairman. I hope people will support her nomination out of this committee and fast approval as Secretary of the Interior.
Cantwell’s Q&A with Jewell:
Senator Cantwell: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I was thinking about all of the questions that my colleagues have today and was reminded of that quote Gerald O’Hara says in Gone with the Wind that, “land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for because it is the only thing that lasts.”
So I think if you hear a lot of passion from my colleagues here today it’s because everybody is concerned about the land and what lasts and how we deal with it. So we appreciate your willingness to do this job. And I remember when former Interior Secretary Norton was nominated, there were a lot of questions about her involvement in the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
A conservative organization that sued many, many times the federal government for many issues including – the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act. So I think Mr. Watt was also a very key member of that organization. So I sum it up to what the Supreme Court said that litigation is part of political expression and that people are going to have their political expressions.
I wanted to ask you more specifically about – we’re not going to get a chance to have the Indian Affairs Committee ask you a question. I know you’ve had the support of Billy Frank, a long time Washington tribal leader. I wanted to get your comments on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which will be part of your responsibilities. And whether you would commit to protecting treaty rights and incorporating tribal input into the Interior resource decisions?
Sally Jewell, Nominee for Secretary of the Interior: Senator, as I mentioned briefly in my opening statement, I’m fully committed to upholding the sacred trust responsibilities that we have to Indian tribes and Indian nations. And building and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship that we have with tribes. I know this a very important part of the Department of the Interior. I know that we will be working closely together with your chair role on that committee. And I’m certainly very interested in becoming more steeped in those issues and it has come up across the board in almost every one of my meetings with Senators so far. So I very much look forward to taking this part of the role extremely serious.
Senator Cantwell: And to one issue that both the Vice-Chairman of that committee, Senator Barrasso, and I both have an interest in is how to increase energy production on tribal land. There was legislation that was passed but wasn’t properly implemented. So I wanted to get your thoughts on both that issue of increasing energy production on Tribal lands as well as the diversity and portfolio of increasing renewable energy on public lands. If you could give us your thoughts on those?
Sally Jewell, Nominee for Secretary of the Interior: Absolutely, thanks Senator. Some tribes are blessed with natural resources and I think leaning into those resources to help the tribes economically as well as help the country by finding sources of energy development are really important. I know that businesses and tribes want certainty, in terms of the regulations. And I know that there have been issues with the Bureau of Land Management on how the leases occur. And I certainly will look into furthering that development.
On renewable energy, I’m very pleased to hear about the work happening across the country on identifying those areas for both solar and wind energy that have the highest potential. So we can apply some of the things we’ve learned in oil, gas and coal development to the renewables as well – finding the places of highest potential and working with industry partners to be able to develop those resources. So I certainly look forward to digging in on that as well.
Senator Cantwell: Well, I think this is something Secretary Salazar made great progress on. But we hope with your leadership to make much more progress. And I’m glad to hear you think you can apply some of that experience learned in other resource extraction to this because it is about great potential all across the country. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Next Article Previous Article