President Obama has nominated Sally Jewell, CEO of outdoor apparel and equipment company Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), to be his next Interior Secretary. Sandy Bahr of the local chapter of the Sierra Club will talk about the nominee.
Ted Simons: President Barack Obama wants the CEO of outdoor Gear and clothing store, REI outfitters, to be the Next secretary of the Interior. Sally Jewell would replace Ken Salazar as head of the interior. Here to talk about Jewell's nomination is Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra club. Good to see you again.
Ken Salazar: Nice to see you.
Ted Simons: Who is sally Jewell?
Ken Salazar: She, as you noted, well now I guess former CEO of recreational equipment, REI. We have REI stores in the valley. And it is a company that sells outdoor gear and focuses on, you know, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking, that type of gear. And she is someone who brings different credentials to the department of interior than what we have seen in recent years. She doesn't have -- she hasn't served as an elected official. She doesn't have any inside the beltway credentials and perhaps this might be a good thing.
Ted Simons: I was going to say. CEO of a major corporation -- this is a big-time business, REI. She used to be an engineer in oil fields for MOBIL oil. She is fond of mountain climbing. Also involved I think for two decades in commercial banking. That seems somewhat unusual for interior, doesn't it?
Ken Salazar: Yeah, it is unusual. It is a different background. But obviously she understands the value of public lands. She has been out there enjoying and exploring them. Through her work at REI, that is a big part of it, you know, to help provide the equipment to people who want to enjoy those lands. I would say that she has a solid background in understanding the value of public land, certainly from a recreational perspective and she has to explore and enjoy part of the Sierra club mission, and now she will have an opportunity to protect as well. And, you know, we will see how she does with that. A lot of challenges that she is going to face.
Ted Simons: Talk about those challenges. What are you seeing?
Ken Salazar: Well, first of all, there is a lot of pressure to open up more public land to oil and gas drilling, to mining. We have, you know, secretary Salazar issued the mineral withdrawal for the million acres around Grand Canyon here in Arizona. Mining companies are challenging that legally. She will have an opportunity to help push the president to permanently protect that land as a -- as a national monument. She will have an opportunity to make sure that these resource management plans for the existing national monument are implemented in a way that protect the land. And, you know, we will see how -- we will see how that -- the pressure of -- from the oil companies, how she does with that. But, I mean, looking at her background, this is a woman who, you know, can look at the issues, understand the value of the lands and make a decision that is good for the American people and, you know, and for future generations.
Ted Simons: And also, I would imagine, being an engineer in oil fields for MOBIL and commercial banking, she would understand business interests, as well and their concerns.
Ken Salazar: Absolutely. And she will be able to understand some of the problems with the industry. Mining industry, former miners are the ones most critical of the mining companies because they know how they operated. And they also know when someone is maybe not being totally frank about the impacts. Now, she can -- she can look at it, when someone says well, this mine is not going to have any impact. This oil and gas drilling is not going to have any negative impacts on these lands, she will be able to say, wait a minute, you know. And I think that having the engineering background, understanding finance and also knowing the value of our public lands, I think that that is a solid background for this position.
Ted Simons: How different would she be do you think from Ken Salazar? What will his legacy be at interior?
Ken Salazar: Secretary Salazar has done good things for Arizona. Mineral -- under the issues relative to endangered species, under U.S. fish and wildlife service, we would say not as solid there. Under his leadership, we saw the gray wolf delisted, northern gray wolf delisted something that was hugely controversial and we think will not be to the benefit of the species. We think it was done prematurely. And there is still -- here in Arizona, our wolves still have a long way to go to be recovered and even though we have seen some improvements, we would like to see some changes made so -- endangered species, better protection for endangered species habitat. I think he could have done a lot more in that area giving direction to U.S. fish and wildlife in that area, and then, you know, I think also on bureau of land management end of things, there are some resource management plans that started out fairly strong and it seems like they caved in to some interests, like the recreational shooting issue on the Senora desert national monument, that is an area that is experiencing enormous damage from people -- bureau of land management, ready to move forward on the ban on recreational shooting on the monument and it was delayed and they backed off. Issues like that. Grand Canyon area, mineral withdrawal is a big plus.
Ted Simons: The president on sally Jewell, knows there is no contradiction between being stewards of the land and economic progress. What do you think of that quote?
Ken Salazar: I think it is right on. We all know that protecting the environment -- conservation is critical to a strong economy. More than 80% say we think that the public lands are a critical part of our economy here in Arizona, and we don't think they should be sold off as some in the Arizona legislature have proposed.
Ted Simons: All right. We will stop it at that. Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us.
Ken Salazar: Nice to be here.