of Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior
[White House Transcript]
2:06 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everybody.
Ken Salazar likes to
say that the Department of the Interior is actually the Department of
America. Other members of my Cabinet may not entirely agree with
statement, but you can see where he’s coming from.
The Secretary of the Interior is in charge of overseeing 500 million
acres of public land -- including places like Yellowstone and the Grand
Canyon -- and protecting our natural heritage for our children and our
grandchildren and their children to come.
But the job also
requires keeping an eye on America’s future, and making smart decisions
about how we create jobs and help businesses grow, and put ourselves on
a path towards energy independence. And that’s not
always an easy balancing act, but with enthusiasm and skill and
dedication, that’s exactly what Ken Salazar has done over the last four
We were just
reminiscing a little bit -- I’ve known Ken since we were both running
for the Senate together and became the only two incoming Democrats in
our Senate class -- Pete Rouse remembers this. It was a lonely
time. (Laughter.) We actually lived in the same building
first arrived in Washington. And, Ken, you'll recall it was a
discouraging because basically everyone else who lived there was 20 or
25. (Laughter.) So we were the two geriatrics
in this building.
But I came to
appreciate quickly not just his friendship -- which, if you've got Ken
Salazar as a friend, you've got a real friend. Not only did I
appreciate his jump shot -- he is surprisingly quick on
the court -- (laughter) -- but also his patriotism, and his belief that
we've got a responsibility to care for the land with which we’ve been
And it's not
surprising that Ken feels this way -- after all, his ancestors were
living here before the Mayflower set sail. As he explains it --
relevant, as we are working to get immigration reform passed
-- his family did not cross the border, the border crossed them.
(Laughter.) And that’s why, when I needed somebody to lead
didn’t have to look very far.
Since being confirmed,
Ken has cracked down on waste. He's improved the management of
Department to make it work better for the American people. He has
ushered in a new era of conservation for our land, our
water and our wildlife. He's established seven new national
new national wildlife refuges. He has opened more public land and
water for safe and responsible energy production, not just gas and oil
but also wind and solar, creating thousands of
new jobs and nearly doubling our use of renewable energy in this
country. He has helped to forge what is probably the strongest
relationship with tribal leaders that the federal government has seen
in modern times. And when the unexpected has happened
-- like the Gulf oil spill or Hurricane Sandy -- he has been on the
ground making sure that people get help right away and we deal with
these challenges as professionally as possible.
So I really like Ken
Salazar, if you haven't gotten the point. (Laughter.) Ken
ready to head back to Colorado and spend more time with Hope and his
family. And so in addition to just saying thank you,
Ken, for the extraordinary work that you've done, Ken is also going to
have the opportunity to introduce his successor. And I am
extraordinarily proud today to nominate another strong and capable
leader to take the reins at Interior, and that is Ms. Sally
In high school,
Sally’s aptitude test showed she had a knack for mechanical reasoning
and spatial ability. (Laughter.) We checked. We do
before nominations. (Laughter.) Of course, her recommended
professions after she took these tests were to be a nurse or a teacher
-- just like all the other girls in her class. And it wasn’t
was an undergraduate at the University of Washington studying to be a
dentist when Sally realized her boyfriend’s
homework was more interesting than hers, and she decided to become an
Sally went on to work in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado.
Later, she brought her experience in the energy sector to banking,
where she spent 19 years determining what makes companies succeed
and fail. And most recently as the CEO of REI -- a position that
held for the last eight years -- Sally has helped turn a stalling
outdoor retailer into one of America’s most successful and
environmentally conscious companies. Last year, REI donated
almost $4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the
electricity used in their stores comes from renewable sources.
So even as Sally has
spent the majority of her career outside of Washington -- where, I
might add, the majority of our interior is located -- (laughter) -- she
is an expert on the energy and climate issues that
are going to shape our future. She is committed to building our
nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country. She knows the
between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no
contradiction between being good stewards of the land and
our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand
in hand. She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion
sales can do the right thing for our planet.
expertise and set of values I know are going to serve her well as she
takes on these new challenges. She's got a wonderful and
family who I understand enjoy the great outdoors just like
she does. So they've got a vested interest in making sure that
Department of the Interior is doing the right thing. And when
confirmed, I'm willing to bet that she will be the first Secretary of
the Interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak
in her native Washington State and who once spent a month climbing
mountains in Antarctica, which is just not something I'd think of doing
-- (laughter) -- because it seems like it would be cold, and I was born
in Hawaii. (Laughter.)
So for Sally, the toughest part of this job
will probably be sitting behind a desk. I suspect she'll want to
out of the office quite a bit. But, again, I want to thank Ken
and the entire Salazar family for their extraordinary
service, their extraordinary friendship. The Department of the
Interior is stronger, this country is stronger, our natural resources
are in a better place because of his extraordinary service. I
not be more thrilled with the work that Sally I know
is going to do in following that path that Ken has carved. I
the Senate to confirm her as quickly as possible.
And with that, I'd like to invite both of them
to say a few words, starting with my dear friend, Ken Salazar.
SECRETARY SALAZAR: Thank you, Mr.
President. Is it the same one I have?
THE PRESIDENT: No, that's Sally's.
(Laughter.) I just didn't want to get them mixed up.
SECRETARY SALAZAR: Let me just first of
say to President Obama that I am humbled and honored beyond imagination
to have been a part of the President Obama dream team for the United
States of America. His presidency is historic,
his team in the White House is historic, and the team at the Department
of the Interior are historic. And for that, I will ever be
grateful to you, my wonderful friend, Mr. President. (Applause.)
So with your leadership and support, and this
wonderful team that we have here, we have in fact changed the way that
the Department of the Interior does business. We have seized the
opportunity together with our other colleagues in
the Cabinet and under the President's leadership and your stellar staff
here at the White House to put the nation on a path towards energy
independence. Today, the largest solar projects in the history of
world are coming up out of the deserts of the
public lands of the United States, and our foreign oil imports are at
the lowest that they have been since 1995.
I'm proud, Mr.
President, of you and your team, because of your leadership on
conservation for America -- from your support in the signing of the
historic 2009 Public Lands Act to the launch of America's Great
-- together, we have ushered in a 21st century conservation agenda and
preserved the crown jewels of our nation, from the crown of the
continent to Montana to the Florida Everglades to the Statue of
I'm proud of our
historic work -- and perhaps more proud of this than almost anything
else -- for the nation's first Americans. From resolving the
longstanding conflicts like Cobell to delivering clean drinking
water to places like the Navajo nation, you have given credibility, Mr.
President, to the proposition that the nation's first Americans, too,
will share in the American Dream.
Mr. President, my parents pushed their eight
children to become first-generation college graduates, and taught us
that anything was possible in this nation of ours. As your
of Interior, you have given to me the opportunity
to prove them right and to achieve that American Dream. And for
Hope, my wife, and my entire family will be eternally grateful to you.
Today, Mr. President, I'm also proud to stand
with you here as you announce your selection of an outstanding person
to be your nominee for Secretary of Interior. Sally Jewell knows
firsthand the inextricable link between conservation
and the economy. Sally was a key contributor to you and to your
team in the creation of the America's Great Outdoors agenda.
been a champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and so many
other conservation issues of our time. And I also
know that her successful business record and experience as an oil and
gas engineer will serve her well as she implements your
all-of-the-above energy agenda, which has been such a keystone to you
over the last four years. And I'm sure you will have more to
say about that very soon.
So, Mr. President, I believe that, as you
have done with all the decisions that you have made since I have been
working with you and your team, this is a stellar decision. And
have chosen somebody who will be a stellar, outstanding
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. (Applause.)
MS. JEWELL: Well, thank you, Mr.
for your kind words and for the confidence you're placing in me with
this nomination. I have a great job at REI today, but there's no
that compares than the call to serve my country
as Secretary of the Department of Interior. I’m humbled and I’m
energized by this opportunity, and I look forward to getting to know
members of the Senate as they consider my nomination in the coming
Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for the
opportunities you’ve given to people across this country to engage with
the Department of Interior, sharing their hopes and their dreams for
our public lands, our resources, our people -- especially
our first people -- our history and our culture. I look forward
working with the dedicated employees at Interior who work so hard to
care for our land and our resources every day. I’m going to do my
to fill those big boots of yours -- (laughter)
-- but I think I might get lost in your hat. (Laughter.)
Thank you, Warren, my husband of nearly 35
years; my two children -- Peter and Anne -- for their love and their
support on this career journey. I’m excited to take this new
challenge. Thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re going to do great.
MS. JEWELL: Thank you. (Applause.)