Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have no constitutional say in the membership of the president's Cabinet. So when Utah Rep. Rob Bishop goes off on President Obama's choice to be the new head of the Interior Department, oddly labeling a successful businesswoman and former oil company engineer as a supporter of some "radical political agendas," it carries little meaning.
Much more reasonable were the reactions from Utah's Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch who will be asked to vote for the confirmation of Sally Jewell as secretary of the Interior who said they would await more information before passing judgment on the nomination.
Usually, Republicans would be expected to favor the appointment of someone whose entire background is not as a politician, but as a business person. Someone who has "met a payroll" and otherwise succeeded on something other than the public dime. But Bishop and Rep. Chris Stewart were, sadly, heard to worry that Jewell's particular business experience is not something they find reassuring.
As the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., Jewell has taken positions on matters of public policy that can only be regarded as pro-business. When, that is, the business you are in is outfitting people to hike, fish, camp and otherwise drink in the natural beauty found across the country, much of it on land that, as the head of the Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management, Jewell would oversee.
The immediate fear of some, of course, is that Jewell might favor the use of public lands for outdoor recreation and not be so supportive of other uses, like digging, drilling, paving and otherwise laying waste to millions of acres of land held in the name of the people of the United States, all for the temporary profit that would be realized by the energy companies who are supposedly chomping at the bit.
The Interior Department's charge is to manage public lands for multiple uses, striking the best balance possible. The Obama Interior Department, run until now by outgoing Secretary Ken Salazar, has been criticized by both wilderness supporters and energy developers, depending on the individual matter at hand.
When it was Jewell's job to stand up for outdoor recreation, she did so, not only running her company but also lending public and financial support to the Outdoor Industry Association as well as to politicians who back its causes.
When her job becomes managing all those public lands for the good of the American people as a whole, there is no reason to worry that she won't do that just as well.
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