NEWS: Obama nominates Jewell for DOI Secretary – A jewel or a lump of coal?

SAWS members,

Sally Jewell, current CEO of Seattle based REI, was recently nominated by President Obama for the Secretary of the Department of Interior.  If confirmed, she will become one of the most radical environmentalists and anti-motorized recreation DOI secretaries in history.

As most of you are probably aware, REI is a very anti-motorized company. As the article titled ÔÇ£A Jewell Who’s Rough on JobsÔÇØ states, ÔÇ£REI’s bigger influence, however, has come from funneling money to radical groups via the Conservation Alliance, a foundation it created with Patagonia, The North Face and Kelty in 1989. Ms. Jewell was lauded by the group in 2010 for committing REI to giving more than $100,000 a year to this outfit. ÔÇ£

ÔÇ£The Conservation Alliance is a group of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations. We direct our funding to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat, preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. The Alliance was founded in 1989 by industry leaders REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, who shared the goal of increasing outdoor industry support for conservation efforts. We now have more than 185 member companies, and disbursed $1.3 million in 2012.

Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed more than $11.2 million to grassroots conservation groups throughout North America.┬á The results of our funding have been remarkable.┬á Alliance funding has helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,748 miles of rivers; stop or remove 25 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase nine climbing areas.┬á We follow a rigorous grant proposal review process that ensures our grants go to organizations that can succeed given the necessary financial resources. Click here for a list of our grantees.ÔÇØ

Ms Jewell is also the vice-chairman of the board for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). NPCA was one of the first groups to attempt to ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park in 2003 by filing a lawsuit against the National Park Service.

A coalition of conservation groups today filed suit to challenge the National Park Service’s proposal to allow continued snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The administration’s plan would allow even more snowmobiles in Yellowstone where the noisy machines already disturb wildlife, pollute the air, and spread clouds of exhaust over such famous landmarks as Old Faithful.

“Families visiting Yellowstone in winter shouldn’t have to worry about their health, they shouldn’t have to wear ear plugs, and park rangers shouldn’t have to wear respirators,” said Abigail Dillen, an attorney with Earthjustice, who is representing Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Winter Wildlands Alliance, and Sierra Club.

REI provides funding for many NPCA programs including 

“NPCA’s intervention is an endorsement for the process of working toward a final winter use plan for Yellowstone, however it is not an endorsement of the rule itself,” said Dowd. “We will continue to work toward a long-term plan that phases out snowmobiles and provides access to Yellowstone by snowcoaches.”

Phase out snowmobiles completely by the 20142015 winter season and transition fully to a snowcoach transportation system using the best available technologies Prohibit non-commercially guided and unguided snowmobile access during the three-year phase-out period.

It seems Sally Jewell is not a jewel at all; but a lump of coal might be a better description.

Dave Hurwitz


A Jewell Who’s Rough on Jobs

As CEO of retailer REI, the incoming secretary of the interior was on the radical extreme, using investor dollars to wage open green activism.

In naming Sally Jewell as Interior secretary, President Obama lauded the REI boss as a woman who “knows the link between conservation and good jobs.” Tell that to Kevin Lunny.

Mr. Lunny runs an 80-year-old California oyster business that had the bad luck decades ago of being enclosed in a federal park. On Monday, as Ms. Jewell polished her acceptance speech, a federal judge ordered the business evicted. Among the organizations working hardest to destroy the livelihood of Mr. Lunny and his 30 workers was the National Parks Conservation Association. Ms. Jewell is vice-chairman of its board.

The press is just wild about Sally, feting the president’s nominee as everything to everybody. She’s never held office. She’s the CEO of a successful outdoor retailer. She’s a woman. She started as an oil company engineer. She is a “committed conservationist.” What’s not to love?

Far from a creative choice, Ms. Jewell is just the newest addition to Mr. Obama’s second-term team of loyal ideologues. It is in fact Ms. Jewell’s (relatively unknown) history on the environmental fringe, and her liberal policy prescriptions, that surely made this an easy Obama call. The president knows he can rely on Ms. Jewell to do for the federal government exactly what she’s done at an activist level: Lock up land, target industries, kill traditional jobs.

There are companies that strive to be environmentally responsible. And then there is a different category of firms altogetherÔÇöthose on the radical extreme, which use investor dollars to wage open green activism. REI is among these. Ms. Jewell, who joined the REI board in 1996 and rose to CEO in 2005, has been central to campaigns that have squelched thousands of jobs in the name of environmental purity.

REI, for instance, actively supported the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which in 2001 locked up a third of all national forests, dealing another blow to logging and mining. When former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2006 announced she’d fight the Bush administration’s effort to inject some flexibility into the rule, she held her press conference at REI’s headquarters, flanked by Ms. Jewell. “We develop them, we log them, we mine themÔÇöwe lose those assets forever,” complained Ms. Jewell at the event. REI’s well-heeled clientele ultimately got 58 million acres of “pristine” walking trails; Western loggers got to tell their kids they no longer had a job.

REI’s bigger influence, however, has come from funneling money to radical groups via the Conservation Alliance, a foundation it created with Patagonia, The North Face and Kelty in 1989. Ms. Jewell was lauded by the group in 2010 for committing REI to giving more than $100,000 a year to this outfit.

The Conservation Alliance maintains a list of the “successes” it has notched via the dollars it sends to militant environmental groups like Earthjustice. In the past few years alone that list has included “77 oil and gas leases halted” in Utah, 55,000 acres put off limits to oil and gas jobs in Colorado, the destructions of functioning dams, and the removal of millions of new acres from any business pursuit.

The Alliance is particularly proud of its role in getting the Obama team in 2012 to lock up half of Alaska’s National Petroleum ReserveÔÇöset aside 90 years ago specifically for oil and gas. Rex Rock, the president of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which represents the economic interests of the Inupiat Eskimos, wrote that the decision will “cripple the lone economic driver for our communities,” and make the Inupiat “exhibits in an outdoor museum.”

The NPCA, when it isn’t destroying oyster farmers, has filed lawsuits attacking power plants and waged campaigns to ban off-road vehicles and snowmobiles in park lands. Ms. Jewell, on the board since 2004, was there for many of these efforts to kill jobs and restrict park use to those whom the NPCA approves. These are the very parks Ms. Jewell will oversee as Interior secretary.

As for Ms. Jewell’s own views, here’s what she took away from her time at an oil company, as described in a 2007 Forbes interview: “I would say I just really have a good fundamental knowledge of what happens when you drill for oil. What happens when oil gets in a creek? How do you deal with that? What are the environmental challenges? What’s the water quality in the community? These are all things that, when you see them on the ground, you recognize that there is a cost to consumption.”

What might also have qualified Ms. Jewell for the nomination is her open support for an idea of great interest to this administration. “I know tax is a dirty word, but if we were paying a carbon tax that accounted for our impact on greenhouse gases, that would in fact change our consumption,” explained Mrs. Jewell in 2009. She’s certainly an Obama fan, donating $10,000 to his re-election. No word if she’s sent an equivalent check to Mr. Lunny, or the Inupiat.

“She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress,” raved Mr. Obama in announcing her. Ms. Jewell’s history is instead proof that she believes no such thing.


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