Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA MORE fought back on Tuesday against criticisms of her agency from environmentalists who say the fossil fuel production it allows goes against President Obama’s climate goals.
Jewell oversees agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which allow oil, natural gas and coal production on federal land and the outer continental shelf.
Responding to greens who have asked for a halt to new leases for energy companies, Jewell said it’s unreasonable to ask for such a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels.
“We are a nation that continues to be dependent on fossil fuels,” she said Tuesday at a breakfast event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
“Right now, we are sitting under lights that are most likely powered by coal, in the East,” she told reporters. “Maybe some of you walked here, but most of you probably burned some fossil fuels in one way or another to get here. There are millions of jobs in this country that are dependent on these industries, and you can’t just cut it off overnight and expect to have an economy that is, in fact, the leader in the world.”
She cited regulations to cut down on natural gas venting and the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon limits for power plants as examples of how the Obama administration is taking action against climate change.
“We all have a responsibility to act and there are things that we are doing and will continue to do to reduce the carbon footprint, put incentives in place for all of us to do a better job at how we use carbon than we have in the past,” Jewell said.
“The president, in his climate action plan, has said very clearly that we need to move to a lower carbon future, and I am very proud to work for a president that has been as direct and forceful in his messaging as President Barack Obama.”
She later said that her goal is not to anger environmentalists one day and the energy industry the next day, despite the fact that it sometimes looks that way.
“I have a complicated job,” she said. “And most of the decisions that are required of my position will make some people happy and some people very unhappy.”
A number of decisions by Jewell, her deputies and her predecessors have angered greens, who say that the Obama administration either is expanding fossil fuel development or missing opportunities to cut back on it.
That includes the decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill exploratory oil and gas wells in the Arctic Ocean this year and continued coal mining in the Powder River Basin, which is federally owned and one of the most productive coal mining areas in the world.
Greens say such moves go completely against Obama’s pledge to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions.