February 06, 2013

Is Jewell a diamond in the rough for Interior?

If you're a real environmentalist, I doubt that President Obama's nomination of Sandy Jewell, CEO outdoor gear maker/seller REI, as Interior Secretary, is a diamond in the rough.

Sure, REI is an outdoor recreational equipment maker. So is Honda, with its four-wheelers. Beyond that, when I heard on the radio that her previous background included work at subprime mortgage bottom feeder Washington Mutual and eXXXonMobil before that (well, just old Mobil, technically), I was definitely underwhelmed. She may wind up making us appreciate the days of Kenny Boy Salazar for all we know.

And, speaking of, she's already indicated she wants to continue his public-private partnerships for conservation and related issues. Translation: She's OK with more corporate branding in places like national parks,

Plus, Interior's traditionally gone to a Western politician. This probably doesn't sit totally well with Congressional Democrats.

She sounds like she's personally an outdoorswoman, and therefore appreciates conservation needs. And, that she might have some ideas on how to boost involvement, especially (I hope) by minorities.

And, she's got her work cut out in gearing up for the Park Service's centennial.

I hope she does that right, AND ... without too much in the way of private branding. I don't want to see "The National Park Service Centennial Commemoration, Sponsored by REI."

Speaking of, I'd love for just one senator to ask her about her time at WaMu and what she knew about the subprime mess. It's legit, not just for running her over, but for just how sound of a management background she has.

Anyway, yes, the League of Conservation Voters has already given her an air kiss. I'm sure other Gang Green groups will do the same.

I want to see how folks like the Center for Biological Diversity respond.

And, CBD has. Not throwing her under the bus, but Kieran Suckling and gang are ... "guarded":
America’s public lands and endangered species are in dire need of visionary leadership. We hope Sally Jewell brings the same determination and transparency to running the Department of the Interior as she did to REI.  

It’s clear the secretary of the Interior nominee has a passion for national parks, but the challenge is whether she will value our wildlands and wildlife in the face of endless pressure by industry to drill for fossil fuels in areas within Interior’s jurisdiction. If she can stand strong against bad ideas such as Arctic oil drilling and fracking on public lands, then she will likely be a success. Nature needs a true champion at this point in history.
I think that's about where I stand.

And, Suckling et al know that oil and the Bureau of Land Management will be a big issue, continually so.

Update, Feb. 9: Tim Egan at the NYT has a laudatory column about Jewell while noting that Obama can't rest his environmental laurels just on her appointment. The line about environmentalists being a "silent majority" amongst the "wise use" folks, general libertarians and even anti-government conspiracy theorists in the West is a good one.

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