Outdoor retail exec picked for Interior chief
By Matthew Daly, APWASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated outdoor business executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department.
February 8, 2013, 4:21 pm TWN
The Interior Department manages more than 500 million acres (202 million hectares) in national parks and other public lands, and more than 1 billion acres (400 million hectares) offshore, overseeing energy, mining operations and recreation. The department also provides services to 566 federally recognized Indian tribes.
Obama said Jewell, president and chief executive at the outdoor recreation company REI, has earned national recognition for her support of outdoor recreation and habitat conservation. He also noted her experience as an engineer in oil fields and her record of achievement and environmental stewardship at REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor use.
“She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there's no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress — that, in fact, those two things need to go hand and hand,” Obama said at a White House ceremony.
At REI, Jewell “has shown that a company with more than US$1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet,” Obama said. Last year, REI donated nearly US$4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the electricity used in the company's stores comes from renewable sources.
Jewell, the first woman Obama has nominated for his Cabinet in his second term, would replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar if confirmed by the Senate. Salazar has held the post throughout Obama's first term. He announced last month that he would step down in March.
Jewell, 56, emerged as a frontrunner for the Interior post in recent days, edging out better-known Democrats such as former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. The Interior job traditionally has gone to politicians from Western states. Salazar was a Colorado senator before taking over at Interior in 2009.
Jewell donated US$5,000 to Obama's re-election effort and has supported other Democrats, campaign finance records show.
REI is a US$2 billion-a-year company and has been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for.