Secretary Praises Senate's Confirmation of Wilma Lewis as Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today lauded the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Wilma Lewis, a former U.S.Attorney for the District of Columbia and Inspector General at Interior, as Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.

“President Obama's comprehensive national energy plan charges us with creating energy-related jobs here in America, reducing our reliance on imported oil and confronting the dangers of global warming,” Salazar said. “Wilma Lewis' extensive legal and managerial experience and personal integrity make her well-qualified to oversee the management of Interior lands that provide 30 percent of the nation's domestically-produced energy.”

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management establishes Interior policies and provides oversight to the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The assistant secretary oversees management of public lands and resources, including production of federal energy and mineral resources, both onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf.

As U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1998 to 2001, Lewis was the first woman and the second African-American to be appointed to the position by the President of the United States. She managed and supervised the largest U.S. Attorney's Office in the country with more than 700 staff members -- including over 350 attorneys -- and the unique responsibility of serving as both federal and local prosecutor. During her tenure as U.S. Attorney, Lewis launched several major initiatives, including an increased focus on public corruption, recognizing a need to ensure the community that those who violate the public trust would be investigated and held accountable.

From 1995 to 1998, Lewis was the Inspector General for Interior, the first African American to hold that Senate-confirmed position. As IG, she managed a staff of 300 in 12 offices and conducted investigations and audits designed to prevent and detect fraud, promote economy, uncover waste and abuse and promote efficiency. In addition to initiating a fraud awareness outreach program, she launched proactive investigative initiatives in a variety of areas, including the underpayment of royalties on federal mineral leases, the recovery of delinquent coal reclamation fees owed by surface coal operators, and an environmental initiative focusing on violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Before serving as IG, Lewis was an Associate Solicitor at Interior from 1993 to 1995, managing and supervising the Division responsible for handling equal opportunity compliance, administrative law, personnel, torts, contracts and ethics matters. From 1986 to 1993, Lewis worked in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, where she was lead counsel on behalf of the United States in a wide assortment of civil cases in both federal trial and appellate courts, and subsequently served in supervisory and management positions in the Civil Division. From 2001 to 2007, Lewis was a partner at Crowell & Moring LLP where she specialized in complex civil litigation and internal investigations. She also served as Managing Associate General Counsel for Litigation at Freddie Mac from 2007 to 2008.

Lewis is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she received her Juris Doctor degree in 1981. She was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with distinction, by Swarthmore College in 1978, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She has served on a number of boards and commissions, and has received numerous professional achievement awards and honors, including the Janet Reno Torchbearer Award; the Charlotte E. Ray Award; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dream Keepers Award; the Bethune-Dubois Institute Award; and the National Black Prosecutors Association Founders' Award.

The Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management ensures that the lands and natural resources of the 256-million-acre National System of Public Lands, including the National Landscape Conservation System, and 1.7 billion acres of the Federal Outer Continental Shelf are managed to meet the needs of the American people. The office also provides oversight on federal royalty management, regulation of active coal mining and reclamation, and restoration of abandoned mined areas.

A focus of the office is balancing the nation's need for clean, affordable energy, minerals and other public land resources with a strong program of stewardship and environmental protection while achieving value for American taxpayers. Management goals are accomplished by engaging America's local communities, partners, volunteers and youth.

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