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Sally Jewell: Obama's Pro-Fracking Climate Czar

Former REI chief Sally Jewell is Obama’s pro-fracking climate czar. Whose side is she on?
Sally Jewell: Obama's Pro-Fracking Climate Czar
Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen

Sally Jewell has just seen a ghost. Several, really. As she enters the aisle between two rows of eight-foot-tall shelving units, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior has come face to face with more than a dozen severed tiger heads. She lets out a quiet “ooh,” somewhere between gasp and sigh. The heads are all taxidermied—jaws open, fangs bared, startled eyes, comprising a gallery of silent roars. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) officer tells Jewell how few of these cats remain in the wild; such trophies can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market. Jewell listens and, moving down the aisle, reflects on how values take time to change—until they do. When she was little, she recalls, her gram owned a snow leopard coat. Later, when her grandmother learned it was from an endangered species, she donated it to a zoo.

Jewell is touring the National Wildlife Property Repository, a 10,000-square-foot facility outside Denver where items made from protected animals get cataloged. The warehouse calls to mind the conclusion of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Instead of crated artifacts, however, it’s packed with the remains of animals: tortoise shells; a trunk of shawls made from the wool of a Chiru, a Tibetan antelope; bear claws; ivory shards. As the tour continues, Jewell has a suggestion for Steve Oberholtzer, who runs the repository: invite the fashion trade. “When they see this stuff close up,” she says, “the message will get through, and they’ll be more careful about their sources.”