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updated: 3/21/2013 11:05 AM

Senate panel endorses Jewell for Interior chief

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Energy Committee has voted to move President Barack Obama's nomination of Sally Jewell to be Interior secretary to the Senate floor.

The committee's 19-3 vote came after current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar agreed to review a decision blocking construction of a gravel road through a wildlife refuge to provide access to an all-weather airport in rural Alaska.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska threatened to hold up Jewell's nomination unless the Obama administration agreed to a land exchange that would allow the road, which would grant access to an all-weather airport for the remote community of King Cove, Alaska.

Under the agreement, Interior will review an environmental analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Murkowski says the report didn't adequately consider the importance of protecting human health.

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