Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, says he’ll delay a Senate vote on Sally Jewell’s nomination as interior secretary until he gets assurances she’ll address his concerns about some home-state environmental issues if she’s elevated into the job.
In a letter prepared for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Inhofe said his demands include that the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service soften restrictions on oil and gas development in Eastern Oklahoma that has been barred because of the presence of an endangered species, the American Burying Beetle.
“This is hurting my state’s local economy and is preventing many well paying jobs from being created,” Inhofe wrote, arguing that the endangered species listing is outdated. A copy of his letter was obtained by Bloomberg News.
Inhofe’s objections threaten to slow full Senate consideration of Jewell’s nomination after the Energy and Natural Resources Committee votes on the nomination on March 21. Holds are a tradition that allow any senator to delay action, although they are often dropped under pressure from other lawmakers or after some kind of accommodation is struck.
Jewell, 57, is the president of Recreational Equipment Inc. If confirmed, she would run the sprawling, 70,000-employee department that manages national parks, 500 million acres of mineral-rich lands, Arctic drilling and duck stamps for wetland conservation.
President Barack Obama nominated Jewell on Feb. 6. If approved by the Senate, she will succeed Ken Salazar in the cabinet-level post.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has placed a hold on Obama’s nomination of Gina McCarthy as head of the EPA until the senator gets an update from the administration on its plans for a flood-control project in southern Missouri, Bloomberg BNA reported.