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Inslee, other govs oppose oil drilling off coast

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee joined counterparts from Oregon and California today in asking the federal government to ban any new oil and gas drilling off their coasts.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the three governors said they were strongly opposed to any new gas and oil lease sales, fearing the “devastating impact” a spill could have on commerce, tourism, recreation and local economies. The three states have also joined with British Columbia in an effort to fight climate change and promote clean energy, Inslee, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said.

The governors are providing formal comment to the Interior Department's proposal for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf from 2017 through 2022.

National wildfire prevention, restoration initiative to include Boise River Basin

The U.S. secretaries of Agriculture and Interior were in Colorado today to launch the first of six pilot projects designed to protect the nation’s water supply from increased wildfire risk, and one of the projects is targeted for the Boise River drainage upstream of Boise. That’s where the destructive Trinity Ridge Fire in the Boise National Forest charred 220 square miles last summer; federal officials say increased erosion and sedimentation from the giant wildfire could affect Arrowrock Reservoir, Anderson Ranch Reservoir and more.

The Colorado project, announced at Horsetooth Reservoir outside Ft. Collins, is in the area affected by the destructive High Park Fire in June of 2012; plans there include forest thinning, prescribed fire and other forest health treatments to reduce wildfire risk; projects to reduce post-fire erosion and sedimentation; and restoration efforts on burned land including tree planting and other habitat improvement. Overall, the project, dubbed the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership, also will include pilot projects in Arizona, California, Washington (Yakima Basin) and Montana (Horsethief Reservoir/Flathead River).

“In the West, more than 40 Reclamation dams and facilities are on or downstream from Forest Service lands where drier, hotter weather has exacerbated the risk of wildfire,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. “This partnership can serve as a model for the West when it comes to collaborative and targeted fire threat reduction and restoration efforts to protect our critical water supplies.” Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the initiative is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan; click below for a report on the announcement from the AP in Denver.

By the way, the photo above, taken by Chris Lee, shows windsurfer Jim Tighe sailing across Lucky Peak reservoir on the Boise River on Tuesday morning, as wildfire smoke rolled in from fires in the hills above.

New interior secretary reaches out to tribes

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: RENO, Nev. (AP) — Sally Jewell made an emotional pledge in her first address to Indian Country as the 51st U.S. Interior secretary, saying she'll help right past wrongs against Native Americans and work with tribes “nation-to-nation” to protect their sovereignty. Jewell fought back tears and paused to compose herself during remarks Thursday in Reno, Nev., to about 300 delegates of the National Congress of American Indians. The casino-ballroom audience gave her a standing ovation. The ex-outdoor retail executive from Seattle became secretary in April. She told delegates the U.S. government doesn't have a proud legacy when it comes to upholding promises to native people. She said she cannot “reverse all of that” in four years, but she is determined to make important progress and help tribes become more economically independent.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Scott Sonner.

Interior Secretary Jewell keynotes Ducks Unlimited convention

 

PUBLIC LANDS — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will speak at the annual  Ducks Unlimited convention this week during a visit to Portland in her first West Coast trip since she was sworn in last month.

Today Jewell and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales are set to announce nearly two dozen conservation projects to help boost youth employment, the Department of the Interior says.

On Friday, she, Gov. John Kitzhaber and a representative from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will sign an agreement to speed the review and permitting of energy generation and power transmission projects in the Northwest.

Failing to understand the headline

Saw some reference yesterday to Jewel meeting with state and federal officials in Boise.

Big deal, I thought. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but she's just a singer.

Of course, the story actually referred to the new secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.

www.courierpress.com

With budget cuts hitting firefighting efforts, Jewell calls on folks to get ‘fire-wise’

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s visit by the secretaries of the departments of Interior and Agriculture to NIFC, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, where the two said sequestration and other federal budget cuts will hit hard just as a “difficult” fire season looms for the nation.

New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called on citizens and communities to be “fire-wise” and take steps to protect their homes, particularly those in or near the woods or wildlands, from burning in a wildfire. “We as private citizens … play an important role,” she said, “especially in these areas where we want to live, have our cabins up in the mountains, and they are oftentimes in harm’s way.” Jewell said people need to create defensible space around homes or cabins, clear brush, trees and flammable materials, and help their neighbors do the same. “I really encourage you to do that,” she said.

This year’s fire season already has seen 13,000 fires start, but that’s actually a low number – the lowest in the last 10 years. That’s mainly because there’s been ample rain and snow across the eastern United States, limiting the fires that otherwise would normally have ignited by now in the Southeast.

But this year is expected to see above-normal risk in parts of the west, particularly the southwest, due to precipitation that’s run far below normal. Southern California has gotten only a quarter of its normal precipitation so far this year. NIFC officials said the wildfire season in West Coast states is expected to start a month earlier than normal this year as a result; fires already have been burning in southern California and even in southern Idaho.

Budget cuts hit as ‘difficult’ fire season looms

With a “difficult” fire season looming, firefighters are facing budget cuts that will result in 500 fewer firefighters for the Forest Service alone and 50 fewer engines available, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this morning in a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. “We’re going to be faced obviously with a difficult fire season, make no mistake about that,” he said. “The resources are limited. Our budgets have obviously been constrained.”

Other agencies also are facing cuts. New Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who toured NIFC yesterday and today, said, “We will fight the fires and we will do them safely, but the resources will go to suppression, which is not ideal. … What you’re not doing is putting the resources in place to thoughtfully manage the landscapes for the future.” That means things like replanting and efforts to reduce hazardous fuels will suffer. “If we have a really tough season, we … may bring in more contract resources,” Jewell said. “We’ll have to take it out of other parts of our budget which are also struggling. We may be making decisions in the short run to take care of fires but in the long run not setting ourselves up for success.”

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said if catastrophic fires are burning in August and sufficient resources aren’t available, he believes Congress would come through with emergency funding. Vilsack responded with a chuckle, “You get that down? Can you send that to me?

Vilsack said in addition to the 5 percent sequestration cut that the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture took, “Congress added on that another 2 percent.” Making those cuts this far into the fiscal year, he said, means they cut “in essence 15 percent of your remaining money.”

Interior Secretary Jewell leads reporter to fresh air for interview

PUBLIC LANDS — Sally Jewell puts her best foot forward….

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell hits the trail in her new role

New York Times Reporter John M. Broder recently joined recently confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on a hike in order to talk about her new role of managing public lands.

Interior serves as steward for approximately 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands; oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Jewell is no stranger to the mountains, as you can see in the 2010 photo (above) taken as she was climbing Mount Rainier.

Obama nominates REI’s CEO for Secretary of Interior

PUBLIC LANDS — Sally Jewell, Recreational Equipment Inc. Chief Executive Sally Jewell is being nominated by President Obama to lead the Interior Department in his second term.

Jewell, 56, has served as the Washington-state-based outdoor retailer's CEO since 2005. She started her career as a petroleum engineer working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado for Mobil Oil Corp. She then moved to the banking industry, before joining the REI board in 1996 and becoming chief operations officer four years later.

She has been credited with expanding the Washington state-based retailer's Internet operations and contributing company resources to environmental stewardship.

Jewell was on the Avista Corp. board of directors from May 1997 through May 2003.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace current Secretary Ken Salazar, who plans to step down to return to Colorado.

REACTION

-Tim Wigley, president, Western Energy Alliance, which represents the oil and natural gas industry in the West.

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.

-Chris Wood, president and CEO, Trout Unlimited

Sally Jewell would make a great Secretary of Interior. Her background suggests that she would bring needed balance to energy development on public lands. Her stewardship of REI demonstrates that she understands the interests of anglers and hunters and would serve as an aggressive advocate within the White House for protecting fish and game habitat and hunting and angling opportunity. She is a practical, no-nonsense leader who would bring a sense of purpose to implementing the oil and gas reforms that have remained largely on the shelf. She is a strong pick.

-Sen. Patty Murray:

President Obama has chosen an accomplished leader as the next Secretary of Interior. I have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Sally Jewell, who has proven to be an effective CEO in the business community, and will bring that skill set to the Cabinet. She understands the tremendous asset that our public lands are, particularly to the multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation based economy. Additionally, American families could have no greater advocate for their continued use, enjoyment and protection of our National Parks and natural treasures. I look forward to working with Sally and President Obama as they shape and implement policies at the Department of Interior.

 -Jim Lyon, National Wildlife Federation senior vice president for conservation programs:

        Sally Jewell is a business leader who knows that conserving America’s natural resources is fundamentally linked to a healthy and strong economy. Outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion to America’s economy and delivers $49 billion in tax revenue annually, but faces a critical challenge as Washington considers even more cuts to conservation programs on top of steep cuts already made. Hunters, anglers, hikers, kayakers, bird watchers and all who value and cherish the outdoors and wildlife will benefit from her first hand understanding of Americans’ passion for protecting our natural treasures.

-Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association president and CEO:

From an industry perspective, Sally Jewell understands the important role that our public waters and lands have in supporting the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. Given its responsibility for managing approximately one-fifth of the nation’s lands and waters, the Department of the Interior has a significant role in providing recreational fishing opportunities and conserving the nation’s fisheries resources.