REI CEO Sally Jewell To Be Sworn In As Secretary Of The Interior

Jewell will have to face some wildly controversial issues, including offshore drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and more.

In Focus
President Barack Obama, new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and outgoing secretary Ken Salazar on February 6, after Obama announced Jewell as pick for the position.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The new U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, has both headed camping-gear company R.E.I. and worked as a petroleum engineer. As secretary, she'll be in charge of perennially controversial decisions about conservation, recreation and oil and gas drilling.

In the final vote before her confirmation, the U.S. Senate voted 87-11 in Jewell's favor April 10. Jewell will be sworn in this afternoon. She takes Ken Salazar's place in President Barack Obama's second cabinet.

The Seattle Times outlined some of the hotly debated questions Jewell will tackle:

  • Should offshore oil drilling continue in the Arctic?
  • How should hydraulic fracturing companies report the chemicals they use on public and Indian land?
  • What will happen if the Fish and Wildlife Service declare the sage grouse, whose habitat oil companies want to explore, endangered?
  • Jewell may also inherit a decision from Salazar's tenure about whether a road should go through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Jewell worked in oil field engineering for three years before working as a banker for 19 years. In 2000, she joined R.E.I. as a chief officer, becoming chief executive officer in 2005.

The 11 votes against Jewell on Wednesday all came from Republicans. However, the top Republican in the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told the Hill she was hopeful Jewell would work with all sides.