Senate overwhelmingly confirms Interior pick
WASHINGTON — Sally Jewell, CEO of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., won easy Senate confirmation on Wednesday to be the nation's next Interior secretary.
The Senate approved her nomination, 87-11, with all the no votes coming from Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was among those who opposed Jewell.
At Interior, Jewell will oversee more than 500 million acres of national parks and other public lands, plus more than 1 billion acres offshore. The lands are used for energy development, mining, recreation and other purposes.
One of the first challenges Jewell will face is a proposed rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
The administration proposed a draft “fracking” rule last year but twice has delayed a final rule amid complaints by the oil and gas industry that the original proposal was too burdensome. A new draft is expected this spring.
Jewell is expected to continue to push development of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, both of which are priorities of the Interior secretary she succeeds, Ken Salazar.
President Obama nominated Jewell last month to replace Salazar, who announced his departure in January.
Obama said in a statement that Jewell's extensive business experience — including her work as a petroleum engineer — and longtime commitment to conservation made her the right person for the job.