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."