Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Interior Secretary nominee Sally Jewell arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2013, to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on her nomination. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
GOP questions Interior nominee Sally Jewell over lawsuits

Politics » National Parks Conservation Association, on which Sally Jewell has served as a board member, sued the government 59 times since 2004.

First Published Mar 12 2013 03:12 pm • Last Updated Mar 14 2013 05:48 pm

Washington • Republicans are raising concerns that Interior Department nominee Sally Jewell belonged to a conservation group that in the past has sued the government dozens of times but the issue doesn’t appear to be slowing her confirmation process.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., questioned Jewell about her work on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association, which Barrasso noted has sued to shut down coal-fired power plants, halt coal mining and block oil and gas drilling. In all, the association has sued the federal government 59 times since Jewell joined the board in 2004.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It’s unsettling to many that you have a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to leading the Department of Interior because many of these 59 lawsuits your organization filed against the government are still pending," Barrasso said during Jewell’s confirmation hearing last week.

A list of cases provided by Barrasso’s office shows 74 cases the NPCA has filed or intervened in since 2000. Four of the cases involve Utah oil and gas drilling permits.

One of those cases, brought by the NPCA, the Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other environmental groups, seeks to overturn oil and gas leases put in place by the Bush administration near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument. The case is still pending.

Barrasso wanted Jewell to say she would recuse herself from any settlements or litigation strategy on cases involving the NPCA, and noted that because the group often seeks legal fees after suing or delays projects, it is "putting Americans out of work."

Jewell, the former head of Recreational Equipment Inc., noted that she is roughly one of 30 board members and has not been involved in its lawsuits.

"I play no role in anything that they may do around litigation," she said.

Jewell added that if confirmed, she would counsel the appropriate ethics official whenever an issue about NPCA came before her at Interior. She repeated the comment when Barrasso pressed again.

Tom Kiernan, president of the NPCA, backed Jewell on the concern, noting that she has had no involvement in approving or generating any lawsuits by the group.


story continues below
story continues below

"Lawsuits are an unfortunate consequence of disputes over the implementation of laws and policies set by our federal government," Kiernan said in a statement. He called lawsuits a "last-resort strategy" for the group.

Kiernan said Jewell would make a "top-notch" member of the president’s Cabinet "and we look forward to working with her to ensure our national parks are better protected and enhanced for future generations to enjoy."

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has yet to set a confirmation vote for Jewell’s nomination, though at least one Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted during the hearing last week that she seemed to be someone a GOP president would nominate because of her past work as an oil and gas engineer.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, sits on the committee but is undecided so far on how he’ll vote on the nominee.

tburr@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.