Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preserving America's Great Outdoors

President Obama has offered up some interesting nominees for cabinet appointments in his second term, but again the aim seems to be to find the right balance, not in rocking the boat, even if the Republicans have been crying foul over Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator, for Secretary of Defense.  I guess because they didn't quite expect Obama to throw one of their own at them, or upset that Hagel endorsed Obama back in 2008, which is obviously a sore point for McCain.

The Republicans are not quite sure what to make of Sally Jewell either.  She is Obama's pick for Secretary of Interior, a coveted position that has usually gone to a Western legislator.  Jewell is a former Mobil Oil company official who became a leading conservationist and has successfully managed Recreation Equipment Inc. (better known as REI) the past 8 years.  She is a Seattleite with a strong interest in the outdoors, which could bring a refreshing change to the cabinet.  Obama is pinning his hopes on her interesting mix of credentials.  She also has a degree in mechanical engineering, so can throw questions on dubious "fracking" right back in Congressional critics' faces.

I haven't been very happy with the decisions Salazar and Vilsack (Sec. of Agriculture) have been making these past four years.  They have made too many concessions to corporate interests.  Former Sec. of Interior Bruce Babbitt and others have voiced concerns, but have largely gone ignored.  One hopes that Obama won't be quite so compelled to relent to corporate pressure the second time around, and will try to leave a lasting legacy behind him in protecting our valuable natural resources.

One of the things Sally Jewell pointed out to Obama at a White House conference on America's Great Outdoor Initiative is that outdoor recreation is a $290 billion industry employing roughly 6,5 million persons.

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