“No one sees it as unusual when a Treasury secretary comes out of the investment banking world,” he said. “I think it’s way overdue.”
If confirmed, Jewell would take over at a time when many conservationists are pressing Obama to take bolder action on land conservation. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar devoted much of his tenure to promoting renewable energy on public land and managing the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
On Tuesday, former interior secretary Bruce Babbitt gave a speech at the National Press Club in which he called on the president to set aside one acre permanently for conservation for every acre he leases for oil and gas development.
“So far, under President Obama, industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas,” Babbitt said. “Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected. In the Obama era, land conservation is again falling behind.”