- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
Interior pick backs coal, dodges on carbon tax
President Obama’s pick to lead the Interior Department had kind words for coal Thursday but dodged the politically sticky issue of whether she backs a carbon tax — a measure that critics fear would drive the domestic coal industry into the ground.
At a Senate hearing, Sally Jewell, a former oil and gas engineer, banker and private-sector CEO who likely will cruise to confirmation, argued that her position on a carbon tax isn’t relevant. She refused to offer a yes or no answer, despite being asked by both Republican and Democratic senators.
“A carbon tax is not something that would come before me in a role as secretary of the Interior. I would not be in a position to take a position, frankly, around this issue,” Ms. Jewell told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a lengthy hearing Thursday morning.
If confirmed to replace outgoing secretary Kenneth L. Salazar, Ms. Jewell, head of outdoor gear retailing giant REI Inc. and a noted conservationist, will have jurisdiction over all energy production on federal lands.
Despite vast, untapped reserves, fossil-fuel production on public lands has declined under the Obama administration.
Senators questioned Ms. Jewell on whether she would work to boost that production, and whether she backs the president’s stated “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
Pressed by Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, Ms. Jewell backed the use of coal, even though industry backers contend that the White House has decimated the sector through regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA under Mr. Obama, for example, has made it virtually impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant. The new rules are expected to soon extend to all existing plants.
“Coal in your home state of West Virginia is certainly very, very important,” Ms. Jewell told Mr. Manchin, a vocal critic of the administration’s environmental policies and in particular its treatment of coal.
“I appreciate that [coal] has been a huge resource in the supporting of electricity and continues to be such in our country. I certainly include that in the all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Ms. Jewell continued.
She stressed that technologies to lower coal’s carbon footprint are vital to the fuel’s long-term inclusion in the nation’s energy portfolio.
With impressive credentials and a deep resume, Ms. Jewell appears to be a shoo-in for the job.
Her business experience comes in addition to her history as a petroleum engineer, a career in which she personally worked on drilling jobs employing the booming new technique of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
“You have worked on the Alaska pipeline. You’re an oil and gas engineer. You said you’ve actually fracked a gas well. You were a banker for 19 years. You’re the chief executive officer of a billion-dollar company. How did you get appointed by this administration?” joked Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.
But her resume isn’t entirely free of controversy. She came under fire during Thursday’s hearing for holding a spot on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association, a group that has routinely sued the federal government — and, specifically, the Interior Department — seeking tougher environmental regulation.
The association has filed suits pushing the government to take action against coal-fired power plants that weren’t meeting emissions standards. The group sued to keep loaded, concealed guns out of national parks. In 2011, the group filed suit against the National Park Service for opening wilderness lands to off-road vehicle use.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- White House: Exporting natural gas to Europe, Ukraine not the answer
- China's President Xi urges Obama to show restraint with Russia, urges diplomatic solution
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to meet with Obama at White House
- Cruz: Putin taking advantage of Obama's weakness
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Unanimous Senate passes bill on military sex assault to give victims more say in prosecution
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again