Thursday, February 07, 2013

Outdoorswoman and Recreational Equipment Inc. CEO nominated for interior secretary

President Obama yesterday named outdoor retail executive Sally Jewell as his pick for secretary of the Department of the Interior, which oversees federal lands, offshore oil and gas leasing, and surface coal mining. Jewell, CEO at Recreational Equipment Inc.,  is an outdoor enthusiast who has little government experience. Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post described the choice as an "unconventional pick" who "represents an effort by the administration to defuse the partisan fight over conservation and energy."

Eilperin characterized the reaction of environmentalists as "cautious optimism," saying many hoped "she could reconnect Americans to their outdoors heritage without stifling drilling and mining operations on land and offshore." Their caution was echoed by some Republicans, Eilperin said, noting "that Jewell's limited political resume made it difficult to pass judgement."

Introducing Jewell, Obama talked about her success at REI while also including some anecdotes about her outdoor enthusiasm, including the month she spent climbing mountains in Antarctica. She worked for Mobil Oil in the late 1970s and participated in brainstorming sessions with then-secretary Dirk Kempthorne under President George W. Bush, Eilperin reports.

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