When colleagues want to conduct business with Sally Jewell, they have a better chance getting her to schedule a lengthy hike than a coffee date.
The Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin
President Obama’s unconventional pick to lead the Interior Department — a former oil engineer and commercial banker who heads the consumer co-op Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) — represents an effort by the administration to defuse the partisan fight over conservation and energy.
Jewell, who lacks the political experience of previous interior secretaries, will be challenged to rebuild a national consensus over protecting public lands. But friends and colleagues describe her as a pragmatic business leader who could work with both parties and interest groups on all sides.
Many environmentalists and oil and gas industry officials greeted her nomination with cautious optimism Wednesday, saying she could reconnect Americans to their outdoors heritage without stifling drilling and mining operations on land and off shore.
Introducing her at the White House, Obama emphasized that Jewell “has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington, where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located.”
She has proven, he added, that one can reconcile economic growth and environmental protection.
“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs,” Obama said. “She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.”
Jewell, 56, who has spent most of her life in the Seattle area, is an avid climber and hiker who scaled Antarctica’s highest peak two years ago and has repeatedly climbed Washington state’s Mt. Rainier. Doug Walker, who served on the board of REI with Jewell, said she “walks the talk. . . . Sally is not fooling you here. She really does this stuff.”
Walker, who chairs the board of the Wilderness Society, described Jewell as a “can-do, activist-type manager” who will focus on inspiring Americans to care about public lands. The biggest challenge that conservationists face is “really reconnecting these federal lands to the broad swatch of American people, not just elderly white people,” Walker said.