White House: Interior pick Jewell is ‘uniquely qualified’

Jewell, if confirmed, would replace secretary Ken Salazar, who plans to leave by the end of March and has frequently clashed with Republicans and oil-and-gas industry lobbyists.

At least some oil industry officials also appeared pleased with her industry background and overall private sector pedigree.

“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, president of the Western Energy Alliance.

The selection of Jewell has drawn quick praise from environmental groups, and her conservation work has included membership on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association and other efforts. She’s a founding board member of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

“Sally Jewell is a business leader who knows that conserving America’s natural resources is fundamentally linked to a healthy and strong economy,” said Jim Lyon, senior vice president for conservation programs of the National Wildlife Federation.

Jewell drew quick criticism from Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a House Republican active on lands policy, but it’s the Senate where she will be vetted.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that will vet Jewell, reserved judgment Wednesday.

“The livelihoods of Americans living and working in the West rely on maintaining a real balance between conservation and economic opportunity. I look forward to hearing about the qualifications Ms. Jewell has that make her a suitable candidate to run such an important agency, and how she plans to restore balance to the Interior Department,” Murkowski said in a statement.