February 6, 2013

Sally Jewell is Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Interior.     Photo: Fortune Live Media/Flickr

Obama Picks REI CEO for Cabinet

Sally Jewell will be Secretary of the Interior

President Obama has selected Sally Jewell as his nominee for Secretary of the Interior Department, according to White House officials.

Jewell is the current chief executive of REI. Before joining the company she worked for Mobil and then spent about 20 years in the banking industry in the northwestern United States. REI has "grown rapidly under her tenure and now boasts roughly $2 billion a year in sales." The Seattle Times wrote a profile of Jewell back in 2005, in which business partners called her a "team player."

Obama's pick was celebrated and criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. If confirmed, Jewell will take the helm of the Department of the Interior from Ken Salazar, who has been squarely in the middle of the struggle between industry and conservation. The Interior has faced criticism for leasing out public land to the oil and gas industry while also attacked for being too cautious about providing leases for economic development.

Jewell is likely to face similar criticisms. As a former employee of Mobil, many environmentalists worry that she may be too friendly to the interests of the industry. On the other hand, she has spearheaded conservation programs throughout the Northwest and the oil and gas industry worries that she might slow development of key resource areas such as the Arctic.

The Obama administration was criticized by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt for being too kind to energy outfits. He said that during Obama's first four years over six million acres of public land have been leased while only 2.6 million were protected.

Jewell is an unconventional choice for a position that has normally gone to politicians from the Western states, but Obama may be hoping that her history in both the outdoors industry and the energy industry will help blunt criticism from both sides. Either way, she will have her hands full.

Via The Washington Post

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Bear Grylls.     Photo: Courtesy of BearGrylls.com

Bear Grylls Returning to Discovery

Will star in new unscripted show

Bear Grylls will return to Discovery with a new survival-themed show less than a year after cutting ties with the company over a contract dispute. Ultimate Survivor will feature Grylls as he travels across the world to inhospitable environments like the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest and reenacts history's most harrowing tales of survival. In a statement, Grylls said he was happy to be returning to work with the network.

I am super-excited to be working with Discovery again—the channel where the Man vs. Wild journey began. Bear Grylls: Ultimate Survivor, and any future endeavors, will be intense—but that’s where the fun is! Man vs. Wild took me to some of the toughest climates and terrains out there, and this new series is an exciting evolution of that. The aim is to follow incredible real-life survival stories and demonstrate dynamic life-saving know-how along the way.

Discovery has reportedly ordered six episodes of the series, which it will air both in the U.S. and internationally. We wrote about Grylls' post-Discovery career in September 2012.

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Iceland Hit by Mass Herring Deaths

Blaming low oxygen levels

Iceland has launched an investigation into the mass death of tens of thousands of wild herring. One newspaper estimated the value of the dead fish to be almost $10 million. This is the second such occurrence in Iceland’s Kolgrafafjordur fjord this winter, raising concerns about the country’s fisheries. Johann Sigurjonsson, director of Iceland's Marine Research Institute, believes that roughly an entire season’s worth of herring has been lost.

Researchers believe that low oxygen levels in the fjord, a result of overcrowding by the herring, may have caused the deaths. Government funding has been diverted toward monitoring the fisheries to determine what can be done to prevent more mass deaths.

Fortunately, we can take solace knowing that the fish will not have died in vain. Volunteers are already collecting the dead fish, which can be turned into feed for animals, and revenue from the sale will be donated to local schools.

Via Yahoo

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Bike on, oh glorious riders! The bike ban is down!     Photo: Christine Rondeau/Flickr

Colorado Supreme Court Ends Bike Ban

Black Hawk cannot restrict cyclists

The town of Black Hawk may not ban bicyclists from riding within limits, the Colorado Supreme Court said on Monday. The ban, enacted in 2010, was aimed at curbing cycling traffic in order to lessen congestion on its small streets as traffic to its casinos brought in buses of gamblers looking for a good time.

Black Hawk leaders said that a 2009 state law that required vehicles to give cyclists a three-foot berth was "unmanageable for gambler-toting tour buses and casino delivery trucks" navigating the town's narrow streets, so they chose to ban bikes outright.

The Supreme Court said the issue affected all residents of the state, not just Black Hawk, because road cyclists on the Peak to Peak Highway had to walk their bikes and there was no alternate route for them. The state law says that municipalities may block cyclists from riding on busy corridors only if they provide another route within 450 feet.

The city's statement on Monday said it would "look for alternatives" to address safety concerns but would not develop an alternate bike path. "The city has no plans to construct any special accommodations to address this issue."

The court ruling also noted a "ripple effect" that resonated beyond Black Hawk, saying that the ban essentially prohibited bike access to Central City and "may also affect a bicyclist's decision to visit other mountain towns, such as Nederland, that benefit from recreational tourism."

The court's full opinion is available here.

Via The Daily Camera

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