Panel approves Obama's Interior pick

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 19-3 Thursday to approve 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, President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Wyo.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBlack Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter Nikki Haley gets lifetime post on Clemson Board of Trustees MORE (R-S.C.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 MORE (R-Utah) voted against Jewell, the CEO of outdoor gear giant REI Inc.

While the nomination cleared the panel, a number of GOP senators have not ruled out placing procedural barriers in front of Jewell before her nomination comes before the full Senate.


The vote proceeded after Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump-endorsed candidate leading GOP field to replace Crist in Florida: poll House passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Democrats look for plan B on filibuster MORE (Alaska), the panel’s top Republican, said she secured an agreement from Salazar to revisit a preliminary decision not to allow a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Murkowski and other Alaskan lawmakers say the road is needed to provide emergency medical access to a small village called King Cove.

While Jewell won a lopsided vote in committee, her bid to run Interior is not in the clear yet.

Interior, under President Obama, has faced frequent pushback from GOP lawmakers in western states, where the department controls huge swaths of land.

Critics say the agency’s policies on energy and species protection too many restrictions on oil-and-gas drilling and other commercial activities — attacks that have swirled around Jewell's nomination.

Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) voted for Jewell Thursday but did not rule out placing a “hold” on her before the nomination reaches the Senate floor, noting he “reserves the right” to do so.

Barrasso, for his part, on Thursday revived criticism of her work on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association and said she has provided incomplete answers to some questions.

“I think many of those answers were incomplete,” Barrasso said. “I fully expect that we want to give the nominee the time that she needs to complete the record.”

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight On The Money — Senate Democrats lay out their tax plans Senate Democrats propose corporate minimum tax for spending package Elon Musk rips Democrats' billionaire tax plan MORE (D-Ore.), the chairman of the panel, applauded Jewell, who worked in the oil and banking industries before leading REI.

“[Sally] is going to give each member of this committee her ear and her expertise that comes from having managed to pack a host of professional careers — petroleum engineer, CEO, and banker, to name just a few — into just one lifetime. I have full confidence in Sally Jewell’s ability to take on this important assignment,” he said.

It is not clear when the full Senate will vote on Jewell, who is expected to ultimately be confirmed.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, in a statement, called for quick confirmation.

He credited President Obama for growing the deployment of green energy and said the president has “protected some of our most cherished landscapes.”

“But there’s a lot more work to do. That’s why we need Sally Jewell leading the Interior Department and working every day to protect public lands and promote conservation,” Karpinski said.

This post was updated at 11:25 a.m.