Horse News

Obama to Nominate CEO of Outdoor Equipment Giant REI to Become Interior Secretary

By , of the Washington Post

Where does this leave the Wild Horses & Burros?
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images - Sally Jewell, president and CEO of REI, introduces President Barack Obama during a February 2011 event in the East Room of the White House to promote the America's Great Outdoors Initiative which encourages Americans to connect with the outdoors and conserve the environment.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images – Sally Jewell, president and CEO of REI, introduces President Barack Obama during a February 2011 event in the East Room of the White House to promote the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative which encourages Americans to connect with the outdoors and conserve the environment.

President Obama on Wednesday will nominate Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department, according to a White House official who asked not to be identified because the public announcement has not yet been made.

The choice of Jewell — who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company — represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West.

But while she boasts less public policy experience than other candidates who had been under consideration, Jewell — who will have to be confirmed by the Senate — has earned national recognition for her management skills and support for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation.

In 2011 Jewell introduced Obama at the White House conference on “America’s Great Outdoor Initiative,” noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry supports 6.5 million jobs.

Jewell, who is being nominated to succeed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, would take over at a time when many conservationists are pressing Obama to take bolder action on land conservation. Salazar devoted much of his tenure to both promoting renewable energy on public land and managing the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

On Tuesday former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gave a speech at the National Press Club calling on the president to set aside one acre permanently for conservation for every acre he leases for oil and gas development.

“It’s that simple: one to one,” Babbitt said. “So far, under President Obama, industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas. Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected. In the Obama era, land conservation is again falling behind.”

Facing congressional opposition and budget constraints during Obama’s first term, Salazar emphasized the importance of enlisting private sector, state and local support to protect major landscapes through America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Jewell emerged as a strong advocate of the policy, and is likely to continue such efforts.

While public lands protection has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, this issue has become increasingly polarized, and the 112th Congress was the first one since 1966 to fail to designate a single piece of wilderness. Environmentalists such as Babbitt have urged Obama to use the Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the executive authority to set aside land as national monuments to protect ecologically valuable areas in the West.

Jewell has pushed for land conservation both in Washington state, where she lives, as well as nationally. She is a founding board member of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, which focuses on a stretch of land spanning from Puget Sound across the Cascades, and helped lay out a plan for the National Park Service as a commissioner on the “National Parks Second Century Commission.”

While Jewell is more closely identified with the Democratic Party than the GOP, she made a high-profile appearance with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) back in 2008 when he was running for president. McCain spoke with Jewell and others at an environmental policy roundtable outside of Seattle, during which the senator argued he had stronger environmental credentials than either Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were both vying for the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.

Other contenders for the cabinet position in recent weeks included former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), Interior deputy secretary David Hayes and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

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51 replies »

  1. I suppose Grijalva didn’t give as much or enough campaign money to qualify for the Interior job. As well as not being acceptable to the oil, gas and mining interests who want all of the public lands. Ms. Jewell may very well be okay, but reining in the BLM is not one of her strengths. Could be a sadder time for wild horses or just stay as the status quo.


  2. Big, big red flag for me……”he choice of Jewell — who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company — represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West.”

    Yeah, I don’t see much changing at all.


  3. There is some political favor being paid off here. Coming from oil & gas and outdoor recreation is not a good thing for our horses and burros. It’s time to light the phones and fill the internet with emails to the President. This is not who ‘We the People’ want handling our wildlife.


  4. Unbelievable…but should NOT be. It is more than obvious Obama cares NOT for our wild horses/burros, nor wolves…nor any wildlife. And to remember when John Holland got Obama to co-sign the ban horse slaughter bill when running for President! Ah, I remember the day! Joy! Hope! However, *hours after inauguration, NO response from Obama re petitions, letters, calls, emails…*scientists, environmentalists… Just like all-doors-closed from his pal from their Senator days>>>>Salazar. Bet the Sal-a-Czar had his input on the new Interior Sec…(((Big Time))). And a large part from Korrupt Ken, a stick-it-to-’em wild horse, wolf advocates, two precious wildlife brutally wiped out, verging on extinction!! Pray Sally Jewell is ok. But doubt it as nominated by Obama…& Salazar. But we do go on FOREVER..never to give up! We will not be “punched-out!” FOR-THE-HORSES<3. FOR OUR WILDLIFE<3.


  5. Well this news out to make Safari Hunting International REAL proud. What a good little bought off politician he will is.


  6. We need to flood her office with e-mail and letters demanding better treatment and management of the wild horses! Make our voices heard. Don’t give up without a fight! The horses need our voices!


  7. If we can defeat all slaughter houses and the EU comes through, this back up plan for the feds to slaughter all the “excess” wild horses will be ended. In the meantime, we have to get PZP on track! Then the feds will have no choice but to stop the round ups!


  8. Let’s see. She has extensive contacts with O&G, so she probably loves both old and new fracking technologies. She’s a businesswoman, so her head will probably rule her heart on profitability of public lands. Maybe she’ll agree with a sell off to the private sector, including foreign countries. And make no mistake, top-level female executives are frequently just as ruthless as males. She’s a woman, which addresses the overabundance of males in the cabinet. She’s white, which doesn’t address that issue. I have absolutely no idea what she knows about Indian Country or the BIA, which is a major part of the DOI. As for wild horses and burros, the overwhelming position of environmentalists is to either totally remove them or tolerate them in unsustainable numbers, so there you go.


  9. MAy Someone have mercy on the wildlife and wildlands in this country…. my heart just fell on the ground and I am sad to hear such news. People who have involved themselves in Banking and with COrp Oil companies certainly have little if no compassion for wildlife. Would it be possible to have someone worse than who serves now? Business women and men have no place in the wild lands of the West. Our poor wolves, wild horses, bears and National park animals are now doomed to the most unknown fate in American History. Mr.Babbitt certainly was a person of his word on land issues and respect for wildlife. From the looks of this situation it is completely out of control and all we can do as a Nation is sit back and continue to cry for the animals. Shame Shame on Washington for not listening to the American people. IT is now time to organize and plan plan and plan not just grassroots put a protest like no one has ever seen before 30 to 40 thousands people in the streets of DC in my humble opinion. IF we do not stand up all the wilderness areas and animals will surely be gone forever is a long time.
    Feels like another bad choice in my opinion. I remember the last two women who were in office one of which was from CO she was the worse ever on isses and animals!


  10. This does not sound good at all. A CEO with all that baggage can’t be good for the Wild Horses and Burros and other wildlife for that matter. I don’t see this woman doing anything but allowing the same crooked system and people to continue. The only way I could even fathom this is if she were to allow all the Advocates to be an active participant in the handling and the managing of the Wild Horses and Burros…Is this realistic????????????????hummmm..I guess I have to do more emailing and phoning..


  11. “enlisting private sector, state and local support to protect major landscapes through America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Jewell emerged as a strong advocate of the policy, and is likely to continue such efforts.” This may be the most chilling statement if true…sounds like “the Treasured landscape” initiative part went no where under Salazar….will wait to hear more…hardly the most qualfied for this posistion..knows more about sleeping bags than public lands and wild horses…well, she has to be questioned and confirmed by the start writing your senators


  12. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune called Jewell a champion in the effort to connect children with nature and said she has “a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans – recreation, adventure, and enjoyment.

    The Western Energy Alliance, which represents the oil and natural gas industry in the West, also welcomed Jewell’s nomination.

    “Her experience as a petroleum engineer and business leader will bring a unique perspective to an office that is key to our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Tim Wigley, the group’s president.

    Wigley said his group hopes Jewell will work develop oil and gas on non-park, non-wilderness public lands.
    Huffington post



    I know it’s a Friday night, but I couldn’t wait to share with you the national attention that our campaign has received.

    Tonight, I was interviewed by HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell for a segment which aired on her program. The segment title- “Saving America’s Wild Horses” says it all. For someone who knows nothing about our issue, this was exactly the message we needed them to hear.

    You can watch the full segment below. Please do, and then share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

    Most importantly, the interview highlights our main cause right now: building pressure on President Obama to appoint Rep. Raul Grijalva, a champion and friend of wild horses and burros, as our next Interior Secretary. Together, we have been able to achieve over 25,000 signatures on our petition in a little over a week. It’s an impressive showing, but we know that we still need to keep the pressure on the Administration now and in the days to come before the President announces his pick. If you haven’t signed, please do so at



    Just last week we announced that we’re working with the offices of U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva and Ed Whitfield on a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar demanding that, before he leaves office, he answer lingering questions about his department’s sale of 1,700 wild horses to a known kill buyer, the Tom Davis. You can read media coverage about the letter here.
    As the letter makes its away around the halls of Congress, we need your help to make sure as many members as possible sign on.
    Will you take just a moment to let your Representative know that you’re counting on him/her to sign the letter?
    Many members of Congress won’t sign this letter without requests from their constituents. Therefore, your participation is critical!
    The more members of Congress that sign onto this letter, the greater the pressure will be on Secretary Salazar and the Obama Administration to take responsibility for the Tom Davis scandal and to ensure that no federally protected wild horses ever again end up at slaughterhouses in Mexico.
    We don’t have much time, as Secretary Salazar will leave office at the end of March. So please don’t wait — send a message to your Congressperson right now.
    – The AWHPC Team
    American Wild Horse Preservation


  15. Jewell is also a big supporter of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, both of which want the wild horses gone.

    I don’t think Grijalva was ever a contender, he holds a democratic seat in a republican state, he sits on two very important committees which can help, he was never seriously mentioned by the administration as a possibility, it was wishful thinking our the advocate side. Of course I don’t remember seeing Jewell as a possibility either. She still has to make it through a senate confirmation, perhaps now is the time to hit the senate committee hard.


    • I agree Jo-Claire. We have to be very careful about wishful thinking and wasting energy on lucky loo promises. Sierra Club has attended RAC meetings as appointed members in the conservation and public member category and through their reps made it abundantly clear they want the horses and burros reduced, if not eliminated. And I was there to hear their position in person. Unfortunately, I too believe Griljava would never have been appointed. And it is actually better that he was not. He has achieved positions of authority and respect though which will hold the line when the going gets rough, which could predictably be soon.

      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


    • Louie:

      You make a very good point.

      Maybe this is a sign that more malfeasance, incompetence and government wrong doing is about to break and become seriously exposed. Who knows.


  16. Like I have said before your wasting your time contacting Obama. He never sees any e-mails or letters anyone sends him. There are rooms full of aids that handle all mail and if something comes up that he should see another aid decides where it goes. The man only gets involved with answering a citizen’s letter if it means a photo-op and publicity for him to make him appear like the good guy.


    • Since his signature on the agreement to oppose and ban horse slaughter, Obama has not said the word horse other than in a sarcastic referral to opposing political manuevering. Check the on line search of his speeches. Nor has he ever responded to the avalanche of emails, phone calls, The White House petitions, or pleas to signal that he understands our fears. He is a non-person in this fight. Preferring to convey his position by allowing leasing of our public lands and allowing his subordinates to confuse and mislead the citizens.

      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


    • Right Barbara. It’s like the site that had all the issues listed and each one that got over 20,000 signatures would be seriously considered by the White House. Then all they did was forward those issues to their respective “departments” to answer. Such as the wild horse issue being answered by the BLM. The marijuana issue being answered by the DEA. etc, etc. Obama sees nothing from us and Congress answers to lobbyists, and there’s more lobbyists than there are members of Congress.


  17. First-my list of things I am thankful for-its so much shorter than the “other” list…1-he did not appoint another rancher, or someone who owes political favors..those 2 are non starters..maybe fresh eyes and perspective, not a harry reid “back scratcher” a ceo-she should take a hard look at the figures and see immediately-the wild horse and burro program is as the GAO says…unsustainable…..I think we should wait on our criticism until she has a chance to take a look at things..after reading her profile from the seattle times link above..I see potential, it will be up to us to bring her up to speed on the WH&B issues..lets try to get her on our side in this..she had obviously made a choice to leave the oil industry for something totally opposite..and she has the background to not be outsmarted by those industries…I can’t see her allowing the ruby pipeline to run thru the sheldon wildlife refuge as salazar did


    • Well, She is not a rancher–or a polititian–I am hopeful that means that she can not be so pressured by the ranchers–hopeful at least. I think we should start contacting her–inform her about our position on the horses & burros–encourage her to pick a replacement for BLM head,and stress the need for our voices to be heard on all things having to do with the horses and burros. We are always going to be there-she needs to include us.- Please—Don;’t give up!–This may even turn out well!!


  18. This, i am not sure of… it certainly sounds worrying.. but.. there could be something about the original guy that we wanted.. you know. something wrong.. you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen until it happens.. first off, you all are doing the wrong thing, I mean, speaking such negativity! … Try speaking life into a situation. See what happens.. All I can say is now, we have nothing left but to pray for the strength of the new secretary of Interior and Pray that she will be in the interest of our Iconic wild animals, and of course, Us, the taxpayers..


  19. Another major disappointment with a appointee who has a background with Mobil Oil and has support of the sporting/hunting entities that have no heart to spare the wildlife.

    This appointment by Obama is for the constituents who hold the power to get what they want. Unfortunately, it is not the Save the Wild Horse and Burro activists. Efforts to save the horse and burro must get larger, on the ground petitions should be considered We have seen that on line petitions, including White House gov. site petitions (which is a ruse). This is a war and cannot be won by keying a computer. On-site protest at roundup sites even to the point of serious harassment from BLM might be necessary.


    • The BLM backed down from rounding up a rogue ranchers’ cattle near Lake Mead who’ve been illegally grazing for over 10 years, who hasn’t paid grazing fees for over 10 years, just because they were concerned the man would defend his cattle as he stated he would. So the BLM was ordered by DC to cancel the planned round up of these trespassing cattle and they’re still there, illegally. The BLM backed down from one man. Think they would back down from rounding up horses because one man threatens to defend them?

      I’m sure ranchers are not too thrilled about this possible appointment. What we can hope for is that she respects the law – the 1971 Act – regardless of the Sierra Club, etc. The law is the law. Doesn’t matter that environmentalists and ranchers do not agree with it. It’s not supposed to matter anyway.

      As it is, the only thing that seems to get through to the BLM and Interior are lawsuits filed against them. They seem to lose more than not, judging by environmental lawsuits against them.

      All we’ve ever asked is for the 1971 Act to be implemented as mandated. AML by law is supposed to be set according to annual or semi-annual range studies, not a number per herd pulled out of a hat one year and appointed per herd for infinity. Wild horse herd areas are supposed to be managed primarily for the horses, not removed for cattle. The law states that livestock should be removed to protect wild horse habitat, not the other way around. Etc, etc.

      Hopefully she will be shocked at the treatment wild horses and burros get by BLM and their contractors, with no humane standards or oversight.


  20. I don’t know how to feel at this point. All of the people we have depended on to support our efforts to save the Wild herds in the west have, so far, let us down. Let’s look at Ms. Pickens for example. I had totally bought into her gravy train bogus bonanza!! What a fiasco that turned out to be!! Now with this new lady on the agenda, I truly don’t know what to think, who to trust. I was so hoping for Mr. Grijalva! I know some people have had their misgivings about him, but I know he had the Wild Ones interest at heart. I voted for Mr. Obama, twice, thought him a much better option that either of the two options, so I’m still hoping that things will work out for the best interests of the Horses/Burros, and not the BLM/Interior Dept/Special interests therein!


  21. Sigh. Is it too late to start a White House petition for Grijalva? I realize it’s a bit late but if people write to their Senators, she might not get nominated. It is a liberal Senate, after all. This woman is an outdoor “enthusiast” meaning she likes the idea of hiking. WTF. Off the top of my head I could name a dozen women Ecologists more qualified to make decisions on land management and endangered species.


    • It’s really frustrating, isn’t it? How little the general public and even our leaders really know about these things, and about the position of SOI. I guess people are settling for being thankful that she doesn’t have ranching ties. But she could have oil company ties.


  22. I don’t know what this means for horses. Obama needs more women in his cabinet. I would have preferred Christine Gregoire (ex-Gov of WA state).


  23. Sandra, thanks for the link to that interview – makes me feel a little better about this choice.
    I think we all should probably give her a chance – is it possible for her to be any worse than Salazar?
    And frankly, maybe having a woman will as secretary will be a good thing or at least better than the old boys club! So I guess we just keep those cards, letters & phone calls going…


  24. white house FB page introducing Sally as his nominee…please show her we are supporting her in honor of the wild horses and burros..lets make a good ist impression to counter all the negative things BLM will say about us LOL


  25. As someone who has been an REI customer for some time, I can tell you they’re actually one of the few decent outdoor stores around. They don’t sell gear for hunting or trapping, so that part bodes well. But her background with Mobil does raise a caution flag for me. Overall, she’s virtually an unknown and the picture is just too fuzzy to pass judgement right now.


  26. Maybe the nominee was chosen for the purpose of sliding under the horse hating, oil/resource sucking, meat worshipers Senate confirmation process and checking a minority/woman block.

    I like Grivalja, but it would have been a very difficult (impossible?) confirmation process. The resource sucking and wild equine killing trolls KNOW his positions and would have never allowed it.

    Maybe the nominee has changed over time to truly protect lands and wildlife, but as many have mentioned, the association with Audubon and Sierra Club (they HATE wild equines) has a predictable foreboding.


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