When President Obama nominated Sally Jewell as Interior secretary last week, he chose a woman not unlike him: smart, low-key and with a self-deprecating wit.

In a 2011 speech at the University of Denver, Jewell quoted Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” to argue that Americans have avoided the more-difficult road “less traveled by” that assures the Earth’s preservation. She underlined that point by showing a slide of a glacier from her recent jaunt to South America and Antarctica, acknowledging ruefully, “Our carbon footprint was dreadful.”

If the Senate confirms her, Jewellwill take over an organization that’s one of the government’s biggest sources of revenue other than taxes. In 2011, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management brought in $7 billion from leasing rights for oil, gas, coal and minerals, and recreation fees.