President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he is nominating Sally Jewell, president and CEO of the outdoor and recreational retailer REI, to replace Ken Salazar as Interior secretary.
Politico by Andrew Restuccia and Darren Goode
Obama called Jewell a “strong and capable leader,” saying she’s “an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future. … She knows the link between conservation and good jobs.”
At a 15-minute White House rollout with the president, Jewell said she was “humbled” and “energized” by the appointment.
“I’m going to do my best to fill those big boots of yours,” Jewell told Salazar. Drawing laughter from the audience, she added, “but I think I might get lost in your hat.”
The pick, first reported by The Washington Post, would be well-received by environmental groups yet also offers something for the oil and gas industry: Jewell is a board member of the National Parks Conservation Association and was a young petroleum engineer at Mobil before it merged with Exxon.
POLITICO reported last week that Jewell had emerged as a serious candidate for the job. But in selecting her, Obama is bypassing potential candidates with longer political résumés, such as former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, along with internal department favorites such as Deputy Secretary David Hayes.
Jewell’s selection drew immediate support from conservation advocates as well as from some oil and gas industry supporters who have criticized Obama’s policies on energy production. But some industry groups weren’t yet ready to endorse her, and one House Republican subcommittee chairman expressed concern about REI’s ties to environmental groups with “radical political agendas.”
“Sally Jewell has the mind of an engineer, the heart of an environmentalist and the know-how of a businesswoman,” said a statement from Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, who is regarded as one of the most influential environmental advocates on climate policy, while Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams called Jewell “a tremendous leader for conservation at every level.”