Barrasso Q’s Interior Nominee’s Obamacare Waiver

Aaron Flint posted on March 07, 2013 16:04 :: 1143 Views

Special waivers for Obamacare.  Unanswered questions on fracking, coal, and grazing.  That and more led Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) to say he still has some “unsettling” concerns following a nomination hearing for potential Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. 

In a one-on-one interview Thursday, Sen. Barrasso told me that Jewell, the former CEO of REI, didn’t have the background or the understanding to answer several questions.   

BARRASSO: “Its unsettling to many when you see that for the last 8 years she’s been involved in the board of the National Parks Conservation Association.   Since she has been on the board, filed at least 59 lawsuits that we can find against the federal government- blobking things like coal mining, oil and gas development, uranium.  so she has a history with an organization of which she is the Vice chairman of suing the federal govt in an effort, appears to me, which hurts our communities in terms of jobs, in terms of our economy in terms of our ability to grow and thats why its unsettling to many.”

Barrasso point blank asked Jewell if she is for or against a carbon tax.  That question was in reference to remarks she made at The University of Montana in 2007.  Her response?  “Out of time.”

He says fracking was another one of those “unanswerables” from Thursday’s hearing, and took her to task over Obamacare.  When Jewell was CEO of REI, the company got a waiver from having to comply with the full impacts Obamacare. 

BARRASSO:  “A lot of businesses were not able to get waivers like that, which of course was because the health care law was not affordable, was expensive, was going to be unworkable, very unpopular and yet she took full advantage of a waiver….I asked, what about waivers for things like the NEPA process, things where businesses need certainty?  And she was not able to commit if she is confirmed to US Secretary of Interior….” 

Barrasso on Obamacare waiver and public lands:

Click to Listen

Full one on one interview with Sen. Barrasso:

Click to Listen



10 Questions for Interior Nominee

The under the radar nominee for Secretary of Interior may now actually start to face some real questions about her background, and how that may conflict with her role as Secretary of the Interior. 

Politico’s Morning Energy has this:

IER TO ENR: QUESTION JEWELL: The Institute for Energy Research has questions about Sally Jewell – and they want to make sure the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that will be questioning the Interior nominee know about them. “Sally Jewell must not only testify concerning her well-documented beliefs about conservation, wilderness protection and environmental regulations. She must also address her less-known, but equally documented, associations with litigious groups who are known for suing the federal government, as well as her understanding of the role that federal lands and waters must play in America’s future energy security,” IER Communications Director Benjamin Cole wrote in emails to ENR staffers from both parties yesterday. Cole also pushed the group’s recently published list of questions for Jewell:

Click the link above for the full list of questions.  Here’s some of the questions that have particular relevance here in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.

9.  During Jewell’s tenure, the NPCA sued the Army Corps of Engineers regarding hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  An NPCA press release about the 2011 lawsuit quoted an environmental advocate who said that hydraulic fracturing was a “risky industrial activity that has already caused documented environmental and human health impacts,” adding, “No one’s drinking water should be sacrificed in the rush to pursue exploitation of methane gas deposits that have existed for millions of years.”

8.  In its 2010 annual report, the NPCA noted that it filed lawsuits stopping the construction of eight new coal plants.  The report boasted that the effort was aimed at stopping “airborne chemicals.”  Given that every criteria pollutant in the Clean Air Act has seen dramatic reduction since the 1970’s, does Jewell still think economic growth in the form of new power plants should be discouraged?  What role do North America’s vast coal resources —  sufficient to provide enough electricity for the next 500 years – play in the administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy?

7.  At a 2007 talk at the University of Montana, Jewell noted that she wanted to see legislation and regulation from government to “help companies make the right decisions” regarding the environment, which sounds like a threat.  Under Jewell’s leadership, REI has a goal of becoming “climate neutral” by 2020.  Does Jewell think that carbon neutrality within the  next seven years is the “right” decision for all U.S. companies and, if so, how does she plan to lead the Department of Interior to “help” companies make that decision?

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