REI exec receives Interior nod

February 6, 2013

Obama taps Sally Jewell for Interior Dept.

Sally Jewel CEO of REIPresident Barack Obama and Sally Jewell applaud outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama announced he will nominate Sally Jewell, CEO of US-based Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), to replace outgoing Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar, who is slated to leave office at the end of March.

Jewell began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil, and later served as a bank executive before taking the reins at the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer in 2005.

During his speech announcing Jewell's nomination, Obama praised her career qualifications and lack of political experience.

"Even as Sally has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington -- where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located -- she is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future," Obama said. "She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.

"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 in hand. She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet," Obama said.

API CEO Jack Gerard said the oil and gas trade association looks forward to seeing how Jewell’s business experience will shape future US energy development.

“Eighty-three percent of the land and offshore areas controlled by the federal government are still off-limits to oil and natural gas development,” Gerard said in a press statement. “Increasing access to America’s vast energy resources should be a top priority for the next Interior Secretary.

“America’s energy revolution in oil and natural gas could make the U.S. a global energy superpower,” he said.

National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi said Jewell's nomination was a surprise, but that the association will take a 'wait-and-see' approach to her appointment.

"We look forward to hearing about her energy vision for America during the confirmation process," Luthi said of Jewell. "We hope that her business and engineering experience will lead her to recognize the critical importance of our Nation’s offshore energy resources."

Environmental group The Sierra Club had high praises for Jewell, having worked with her in the past on its Sierra Club Inner City Outings program.

"In Jewell, President Obama chose a leader with a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans – recreation, adventure, and enjoyment," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "We look forward to working closely with her to preserve more of those benefits and more of our natural heritage by designating new national monuments, protecting America’s Arctic from risky drilling, and keeping dirty and dangerous fracking out of our public lands."

Jewell’s nomination follows the White House’s announcement on February 1 that Steven Chu, Obama’s energy secretary, will resign once a replacement can be nominated. Chu said he plans to return to teaching in California.

Obama thanked Chu for his service, remarking that he brought understood the challenges posed by climate change and the opportunity clean energy presented.

“Over the past four years, we have doubled the use of renewable energy, dramatically reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs,” Obama said of Chu’s tenure. “Thanks to Steve, we also expanded support for our brightest engineers and entrepreneurs as they pursue groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future.”

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